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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Islamic Superheroes Going Global

Like other kids the world over, Middle Eastern children have long fantasized about superheroes battling injustice in American cities or fighting beasts in Japan. Five years ago, they got some champions of their own to cheer on when Kuwait-born businessman Naif Al-Mutawa created a new breed of superheroes endowed with Muslim traits and virtues. Now Mutawa is on an even greater mission: taking those same Islamic characters around the world.

Jabbar the Powerful, Hadya the Guide and Fatah the Opener: Islamic
superheroes on a mission Teshkeel Media Group, Inc.

The 99, a comic-book series based on characters that each personify one of the 99 qualities that the Koran attributes to God, met early resistance in places like Saudi Arabia. Local authorities worried that the series might mock Islam. But after Mutawa guaranteed that he would remain respectful of religion and won backing from a major Islamic bank, the series took off around the Gulf. Initially given away for free with Arabic versions of Marvel comics (the license for which Mutawa owns in the region), The 99 is now a stand-alone success, with some 500,000 copies given away and sold across the region in the past two years.


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