Ben Affleck got real angry at TV host Bill Maher and author Sam Harris during Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, accusing the pair of portraying an overgeneralized picture of Islam by using a few extreme examples. Maher and Harris say they’re just speaking uncomfortable truths. “We have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people,” Harris began, reports Mediaite. “It’s intellectually ridiculous.” And that’s when Affleck jumps up: “Hold on — are you the person who officially understands the codified doctrine of Islam?” It gets more and more heated from there as Affleck chastises Maher and Harris for being racists, two charges they repeatedly deny.
“Why are you so hostile about this?” Maher asked Affleck. “It’s gross and racist. It’s like saying, Oh you shifty Jew,’” Affleck replied. “Your argument is, ‘You know, black people, they shoot each other,’” the actor, who went on the show to promote his new movie, said at one point. There was lots of yelling back and forth throughout the segment as journalist Nicholas Kristof tried to interject with some more calm criticism, saying Maher and Harris were painting an “incomplete” picture of a religion. But Maher insisted, saying at one point that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia” because “they will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”
The heated back-and-forth came a week after Maher sparked controversy for his views on Islam, which led to a response from religious scholar Reza Aslan on CNN that quickly went viral.