'24' Actress Defends Portrayal of Muslims

The hit Fox television show "24" (search) is under fire among Muslim groups for its portrayal of a Muslim terrorist family living in the United States.

FOX News' "DaySide w/Linda Vester" mediated a fair and balanced debate between Shohreh Aghdashloo (search), who plays a Muslim terrorist on "24," and Ahmed Younis, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (search).

FOX News viewers jump into the debate

Iran-born Aghdashloo told FOX the Muslims on the show do not represent Muslim people in general.

"It is the portrayal of a bunch of terrorists who claim to be Muslim," she said. "I'm a Muslim. I was born in a Muslim family and raised in a Muslim family. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother praying five times a day the teaching of Islam I learned in my parents' home."

Aghdashloo added that her family members were not fanatics.

"They believe in Mohammed, the messenger of God, and they believe in God. And the true teachings of Islam that I learned at my grandparents' [home] are love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and, most importantly of all, committing suicide is against Islam. It is wrong. It is forbidden. What kind of a person can commit suicide and call himself a Muslim?"

But Younis said the show does present problems for Muslims, especially those living in the United States.

"We are simply worried about what this means to the American social fabric," he said. "We as a nation have not shown historically in modern history that we are able to deal with situations in which there is an enemy that has representation in some form or another within our country.

He continued, "We believe that at its most extreme, this is no different than signs in the South that say 'no niggers,' 'no Jews,' 'no dogs.' This is no different than during World War II, cartoons that depicted Japanese-Americans as having buck teeth and big glasses."

Click on the video box on the top of this story to see the debate.