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   Thu, July 21, 2005



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WWE removes Hassan from programming




After much speculation, World Wrestling Entertainment has announced that it will not be showing Muhammad Hassan on any of its further TV broadcasts.

The character, portrayed by Mark Copani of Detroit, has been mired in controversy over the last few weeks, following a segment on Smackdown on July 7. In that episode, Hassan's associate, Khosrow Daivari, battled The Undertaker. Post match, Undertaker was attacked and kidnapped by a group of wrestlers wearing black masks.

The New York Post summed up its take on the in-ring action in its July 12th edition: "The sketch included images of Arabs in ski masks carrying a fallen Arab wrestler over their heads after he had 'sacrificed' himself, evoking imagery similar to a suicide bomber's funeral."

Both WWE and UPN came under fire for the antics, which were broadcast on the same day of a bombing in London, England. While the segment did not air on England, it was broadcast in the U.S. and Canada, as well as on wwe.com.

During the show on UPN, a crawl ran four times during the broadcast, noting that, "In light of today's tragic events in London, parental discretion is advised in viewing this episode."

Variety quoted UPN spokeswoman Joanna Lowry from a statement after the show aired. "Due to the tragic events in London, we took the added measure of running an advisory four times throughout the broadcast so that viewers could make the appropriate viewing decision for their household ... We will continue to monitor the situation involving this character and storyline."

Since then, UPN has reportedly been urging WWE not to use Hassan on their broadcasts. WWE confirmed this today, stating in a release that, "UPN has asked us to be sensitive to the usage of the Arab-American character, Muhammad Hassan. We have agreed with UPN, and have not had the character on SmackDown! since that date."

Speculation on various websites has been that the Hassan character would be removed from WWE completely, or the character would move back to Raw, which is currently broadcast on SpikeTV. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer stated on Thursday that, "we've had confirmation that WWE is planning on dropping the Muhammad Hassan character due to all the negative publicity, so he won't be moving to Raw."

WWE, however, has yet to confirm this publicly. "It is uncertain as to whether or not the WWE will continue with this character beyond this Sunday's Pay-Per-View, The Great American Bash," the WWE said in a release on Thursday.

Before arriving on the November 1, 2004 edition of Raw, the 24-year-old Hassan had been in the developmental OWV territory working as Mark Magnus.

-- SLAM! Wrestling