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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs