Ben Affleck Slams Bill Maher's Criticism of Islam, Calls It 'Gross, Racist, Disgusting'

Ben Affleck (third from right) and host Bill Maher (second from right) in a debate on 'Real Time with Bill Maher' on Oct. 3, 2014.
Ben Affleck (third from right) and host Bill Maher (second from right) in a debate on "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Oct. 3, 2014. | (Photo: HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" video screencap)

Actor and director Ben Affleck slammed atheist HBO host Bill Maher's continued criticism of Islam during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher," calling his views on the religion "gross, racist, disgusting."

The heated debate occurred during a panel on the show that touched on topics including Islamic extremism, and also featured atheist author Sam Harris; Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee; and Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof.

"Freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals, these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world this is what's lacking, then they get upset," Maher pointed out.

Harris, who has been critical of attempts to distance terror group ISIS from the Islamic religion, added that "liberals have failed us."

Affleck took offense at the notion of criticizing the entire religion based on the actions of ISIS and other terror groups.

"Because it's gross, it's racist, it's disgusting," Affleck said.

When Harris said that Islam is a "motherload of bad ideas," Affleck said that that is "an ugly thing to say."

"How about the more than a billion people, who aren't fanatical, who don't punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don't do any of the things that you're saying all Muslims do," Affleck continued.

Maher responded: "You're saying that the idea that someone should be killed if they leave the Islamic religion is just a few bad apples?" To which Affleck argued: "The people who actually believe that you should murder someone if you dishonor the Islamic faith is not with the majority of Muslims at all."

Maher, who has criticized Islam a number of times on his show, also said that Islam is the only religion "that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book."

The actor and director then asked whether Maher and Harris are proposing a solution that will condemn all of Islam.

"We've killed more Muslims than they've killed us by an awful lot, and we've invaded more Islamic nations. But we're exempted from these things?"Affleck asked.

In a blog post in September, Harris shot back against President Barack Obama's comments that ISIS is not an Islamic group.

"As an atheist, I cannot help wondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away — either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God," Harris wrote at the time.

"Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas — jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy — reliably lead to oppression and murder?"

In an appearance on Charlie Rose's PBS show in September, Maher defended Christians from a comparison to Muslims, stating that vast numbers of followers of Christ do not believe in violence or treat women as second class citizens.

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