News / USA

Actor Gains Fame Leading Prayers at Hollywood Mosque

Algerian actor Abdul Wahab bin Youcef Algerian 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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid