Bill Murray defends Muslims against rising tide of bigotry in US: 'There is a phobia about what Muslims are like'
Actor Bill Murray via Shutterstock

On a promotional tour in the Middle East to promote his film Rock the Kasbah, actor Bill Murray had a few things to say about Americans' lack of knowledge of the region and its cultures, while saying the U.S. has its own issues.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, the popular star of Lost in Translation provided a sober and nuanced review of his country's attitude against Muslims while admitting that he sometimes loses respect for U.S. actions.

After speaking with an Egyptian film crew member covering his appearance in Marrakech, Murray relayed the man's concerns about America.

“He said educated people in Egypt said, ‘People in our country think it is an economic decision for the Americans to fight wars,’” Murray said, before linking the remarks to his film about a penniless American rock promoter trapped in Kabul, Afghanistan during the fighting.

“I think normal people hate all this fighting,” Murray said. “People think we made this movie to brush up the American image. It might or might not need brushing up, but that image is very different from what it was when I was a child. Now there is brand confusion with Afghanistan and Iraq. I think many Americans do not know what is going on, but the fact that we are now seen as bullies and not do-gooders is of concern.”

Reflecting on the U.S., Murray admitted that it is a complicated situation.

“It is not difficult to be proud to be American,” he says. “Do I have self-respect as an American? Yes. Do I respect everything I do? No. Do I respect my country? Yes, I do. Do I respect my people? I do. Do I respect everything my country does? No. Not every country is perfect. We are an economic engine. There are people with money that just want to make more money. You have got them here. You have them there. The pursuit of money is complicated.”

Murray then turned to attitudes against Muslims in the U.S. that have taken an ugly turn as GOP candidates have demagogued them while maneuvering for the the 2016 presidential nomination.

“There is a phobia about what Muslims are like,” he continues. “I have known about two-dozen. I went to school in Paris with Muslims. Most were from Iran. I found them much to be like friends back home. I was raised as a Catholic. It was always Catholics against Jews. I’m in Hollywood. There are lots of nutty Jews and lots of nutty Catholics. Muslims are just as goofy, too. It is what makes the garden beautiful: Not every flower is the same.”