Competition for batman – co: islamic comic heroes save the world

"The 99" is based on the 99 names of God in Islam.

Super-, Bat- and Spiderman get Arab competition: The Kuwaiter Naif al-Mutawa developed "The 99", a comic series that can inspire New York kids just as much as children in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia.

When a devout Muslim is misled by hateful preachers, he blows himself up among civilians in New York, Baghdad or London. If a devout Muslim has tolerance to his life maxim, he invents a superhero comic series that can inspire children in New York just as much as their peers in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia. Comic professionals take care of the coolness factor the USA, the earlier "Batman"- and "Superman"-Illustrated booklets.

Six years ago, the Kuwaiter Naif al-Mutawa came up with the idea of ​​a comic series called "The 99" to develop based on the 99 names of God in Islam. Namely, each of these names denotes a property, such as "The watchful" or "The fair one", which doesn’t just focus on "Allah", but can also be applied to superheroes.

Naif Al Mutawa: Pious Muslim and modern world citizen.

The international TV group Endemol, which has formats such as "Big Brother" and "Who will be a millionaire?" became known on a television cartoon series based on the comics. 26 episodes are planned. Initially, production is carried out in English and Arabic. The Italian company Panini, which makes its money from superhero comics and collectible cards, among other things, wants the comics, which are already distributed in numerous Arab countries, in Indonesia, India and the USA, in September Turkey to sell. Kuwait became the first two months ago "The-99 amusement park" open.

"Positive Islamic role models" create

When Al-Mutawa looks out of the window of his office on the eleventh floor of a skyscraper in the center of Kuwait City, he sees a piece of desert amid modern glass and steel structures. Only some small old stone slabs protrude from the sand. It is a cemetery that was once on the edge of a very humble city that has grown rapidly over the past four decades due to the oil boom. Today the dead, who according to Islamic ideas are not supposed to be resettled, lie in the middle of the city center.

Al-Mutawa is a pious Muslim and a modern global citizen who can find his way around New York as well as in Dubai or Amman. The father wants five sons with his comics "positive Islamic role models" create for Muslim children.

Business and struggle for a better world

Even so, his comic stories are apparently not about religion at all. "The 99 is about as religious as Spiderman", explains the 37-year-old businessman with the accurately trimmed beard. Only those who look very closely discover the Islamic touch. Many of the 99 superheroes who are looking for the stones of wisdom from Baghdad scattered all over the world come from the Islamic world. There is "Jabbar, the mighty" from Saudi Arabia and Rola Hadrami, the black veiled fighter from Yemen. But the heroes also include an American wheelchair user named John and an inventor from Hungary. "From day one, I designed this comic with a view of the American and European markets and for readers in Japan and China", explains Al-Mutawa.

The Kuwaiti heroes don’t fight against "unbeliever", but against those who "Wisdom and knowledge" want to destroy. The action story has a historical foundation – it begins with the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 – and a philosophical superstructure, which, however, is subtly interwoven with history so as not to disturb the action friends.

For Al-Mutawa, who started writing children’s books, is "The 99" business and struggle for a better world at the same time. The psychologist studied first-hand the depths of intolerance, dictatorship and cruelty when he treated traumatized victims of torture in the United States in the 1990s. Some of them came from Iraq, the neighboring country that Kuwait occupied in 1990, until Saddam Hussein’s forces were driven out by the Americans and their allies.

Unlike many Kuwaiti people who speak of the Iraqis with anger and contempt to this day, Al-Mutawa also feels sorry for the opponents of the past. Because what the victims of torture from Iraq and other Arab countries once told him during their treatment has made Al-Mutawa a fighter for more tolerance and cultural understanding. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the cartoon character Dr. Ramzi who in "The 99" as a scientist looking for the "magic gems" with a beard, glasses, tie and suit looks almost exactly like the busy Dr. Mutawa himself.


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Christina Cherry
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