In an amusing turn of events, Mark Copani, the man behind former WWE villain Muhammad Hassan, now works as a junior high school principal. While Islamophobia certainly still exists in America today, in the years directly following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it arguably hit an all time high. Many American Muslims were afraid for their safety, and several incidents supported that they had a right to be. So, of course, leave it up to the rarely subtle world of professional wrestling to try and capitalize on the social climate of the time by creating a Muslim villain.
Interestingly enough though, the Muhammad Hassan character, who debuted on TV at the end of 2004, was initially rather complex by WWE standards. Hassan and his loudmouth manager Daivari were Arab-Americans upset by the wave of intolerance and anti-Muslim sentiment that had taken hold following 9/11, and wanted nothing more than to be treated fairly and without bias by WWE and its fans. The catch was that Hassan was such a jerk that he was impossible to root for, making him a villain not on the basis of his race or religion, but because he was insufferable.
Hassan's biggest moment in WWE came when he and Daivari faced off with legends Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels at the Backlash 2005 pay-per-view. Now though, Hassan, or more specifically, the man behind him, is embarking on a new adventure. As reported by Oswego County Today, Copani was just named the new principal of Fulton Junior High School in upstate New York. For those who might not have been watching back then, Hassan's surprisingly catchy theme song is included below.
While Copani - who's actually ethnically Italian and not a Muslim - is doing well in his life today, longtime WWE followers will recall that his character's onscreen trajectory took a nosedive not long after the big match with Hogan and Michaels. Hassan looked poised for a main event run at that point, but his WWE career would implode mere months later, due to an ill-conceived angle where Hassan summoned a group of masked terrorist-like thugs to attack The Undertaker that happened to air on the same night of the London subway bombings. Outrage followed, and WWE ended up having Undertaker all but literally kill Hassan off at The Great American Bash. Hassan was never seen on TV again. Hassan's terrorists attacking Undertaker can be seen below.
Looking at that footage again, it's not hard to understand why people got so upset, even if that SmackDown episode - which was pre-taped several days earlier - airing on the same day as the London bombings was a complete coincidence. It's just sad that Hassan the character and Copani the performer saw their WWE career cut short as a result, since he was obviously just telling the story that had been written for him by WWE's creative team. One wonders how many times Copani's students might end up shocked to find out he once did battle inside the ring.
Source: Oswego County Today