An interview of Sasha Baron Cohen on NPR:
GROSS: One of the things you stay away from in “The Dictator” is religion. We don’t know if this dictator is Muslim. There’s no mention of Islam, there’s no mention of the prophet Muhammad, and that’s a good thing, I think, because I don’t think it’s – I mean, Muslims are very offended by anything that parodies the religion but also especially it’s considered sacrilege to, you know, parody in any way the prophet. Did you intentionally try to avoid that so as not to be misunderstood, so as not to insult people who you had no interest in insulting?
BARON COHEN: Exactly. I mean, firstly again, he’s not an Arab dictator, and he actually says that he isn’t in the movie. And so we wanted to really ensure that he was not Arabic in any way. So we created a new language – well, I say that, but he actually speaks at times in Hebrew, which would be strange for…
Baron Cohen’s whole shtick is broadly offensive to huge swaths of the human race. Ask a Kazakh about how they feel after they were portrayed in Borat as anti-Semitic sister-copulating quasi-pederasts. If you listen to the interviewer’s tone of voice it’s pretty clear she’s been highly sensitized to Islamic norms. Contrast this to her blithe acceptance of Sasha Baron Cohen’s grossly inappropriate behavior in much of the American heartland. Not all offense is created equal.