News / USA

Actor Gains Fame Leading Prayers at Hollywood Mosque

Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin YoucefAlgerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
x
Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef
Algerian Abdul Wahab bin Youcef has gained more fame as a muezzin in a mosque in Los Angeles than as an actor who performs Muslim roles in the American movies.

Some reports say that many of the city's Muslims come to the mosque only to hear his voice because it is so distinctive and special.

Bin Youcef, who is known by the name Ben Youcef, hopes to become one of the symbols of Arab actors in Hollywood.

Some media reports describe Abdul Wahab bin Youcef as a symbol of tolerance in America, especially after performing prayers at an interfaith event.

Bin Youcef said that his activity in the interfaith event is influential to the people in the U.S. "regardless of whether one is a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist or without religion."

He told Alhurra TV that such work “will remain in my memory even 50 years from now, for I was able to reach people of different beliefs."

Bin Youcef began his acting career after the September 11 attacks, participating in a number of commercials before joining the American Artists talent agency.

At that time, bin Youcef’s appearance made him appealing to a number of American directors, especially for roles related to Islam, religious extremism and other topics related to the September 11 attacks.

The head of the Artists Group, Robert Malcolm was the first to notice bin Youcef’s unique features, which suddenly became sought after in American cinema.

The actor received a call to test with a Los Angeles company.  He performed a five minute scene from the play ''A Hatfull of Rain” in front of a committee.  His success in that test became a real start for bin Youcef.

About the events of September 11, bin Youcef says, "The future was uncertain to me, and I wondered why people think badly about my belief. My thoughts were confused about what is going on around the world. They were attacking my beliefs and my religion."

He added that these questions led him to "do in-depth research on many of the issues related to Islam. I stopped praying for a period of time, until I turned 20, and began praying again. Ever since, I started reciting the adhan and I feel I have found my beliefs by my own and with conviction."

Bin Youcef is not just known for acting, he is also famous in Los Angeles’ Muslim community as a muezzin with a strong, haunting voice.  He has gained the attention of many non-Muslim religious associations in the region, and has been invited to participate in activities related to interfaith dialogues.

One of those invitations enabled bin Youcef to perform the call to prayer at a Los Angeles church that gathered leader of many religions in a project that called for peace among people.

A YouTube video clip capturing bin Youcef praying generated thousands of views and comments on social networking sites.



"I wanted to defend and show the world my faith,” bin Youcef said. “I wanted to tell people that Islam is a beautiful religion, but some people have misunderstood it and misused it, just as a Christian may misuse Christianity".

Some U.S. media reports about bin Youcef’s acting talent focused on him being a muezzin with a special voice and performance.

"I consider myself a tool used in the service of God and I'm so happy,” bin Youcef said.  “I am just lucky because I do so but I am not special. I consider it a gift from God."

"I consider Adhan [call to prayer] to be the only moment that I reach a great purity,” he added. “My aim is not to be a leader or in the foreground, but I just want to perform my religious duty like any ordinary person, and I am not seeking more than this."

Bin Youcef acknowledges that "conciliation between being a Muslim and my work as an actor in Hollywood is very challenging. It requires a huge effort, but the challenge is ongoing."

He believes that people in Hollywood "are not on the same level of perceiving a person and his culture. I think that some directors prefer to work on more humane aspects and to address the issues with greater positivity."

"In Hollywood there is the good, evil and ugly, you just need to choose who to work with,” he said.  “So I always prefer to work with those who look at things positively."
Bin Youcef is known for performances that are mostly related to extremism and Islam.

He talked about the atmosphere that has prevailed lately in the United States and the way Americans look at Islam and Muslims.

"It was painful for me and I was confused about what can I do, because things were not clear,” he said. “I refused to do some roles that are against my culture."

From his point of view, bin Youcef believes there is still much to do to fulfill his desire to deliver a message to Americans that Islam, as a religion, is not the cause of all kinds of extremism and terrorism.

"I think I did a bit of it,” he said. “In a show about terrorism, the scene of my testimony in a court was strong and influential, and people knew then that the issue of involvement in terrorism is more complex than they thought. I believe that there are things other than those associated with just being a Muslim in America."

The trial scene is from the TV show series "Law and Order" during which bin Youcef’s character attempts to exonerate himself from the charge of conspiracy to carry out terrorist attacks inside the United States by trying to implicate two Muslims to carry out the operations instead of him.

Despite what he describes as the difficulties faced by being a Muslim in Hollywood, bin Youcef remembers the will of his father, a retired diplomat, about the pride of the Algerian and Arabic origins, which he says was one of the secrets of his success.

"Ever since I was young, my father told me as long as you always remember who you are and where you come from, you will be fine but if you forgot, you will be in real trouble,” bin Youcef said. “I consider this a rule in my life."

This story originally appeared on al Hurra.

You May Like

Somalia: No Popular Elections in 2016

In interview Wednesday with VOA, President Mohamud says 'one person, one vote' elections will not be possible due to continuing insecurity More

Scientists Predict Climate Change Will Increase Child Malnutrition

Public health expert in Germany says that by 2050, 25 million more children's lives will be put at risk because of lack of nutrients tied to climate change More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tafuta Fundisha-Bey from: Federal Way, WA
August 09, 2013 7:06 PM
May God continue blessing you. Let us all understand we are all interconnected; therefore, we must learn to live and appreciate one another. There are many rivers that lead to the ocean, and there are many faiths that lead to the oneness of God. Let us stop discriminating and be appreciative of one's choice of faith and belief. Together we're strong divided we're weak. Thanks for sharing your talents. Peace and love

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs