Villain loses WWE grip

'Smackdown' may permanently nix Hassan

World Wrestling Entertainment has pulled its Arab-American character Muhammad Hassan from “WWE Smackdown” following concerns from UPN.

In a statement released Thursday, WWE said it is also mulling whether to ax the character entirely following this weekend’s WWE pay-per-view match, “The Great American Bash.”

Concern over the character grew after the July 7 edition of “Smackdown” depicted what some viewers saw as a terrorist-like attack by five men wearing ski masks, choking WWE good guy the Undertaker as Hassan stood by praying. Episode aired the same day as the real-life attacks in London.

At the time, UPN ran a parental discretion crawl on its screen, and WWE said it wasn’t able to alter the segment due to the quick turnaround required to deliver the program to the network.

In a statement, the WWE said, “Due to the unfortunate terrorist attacks in London on Thursday, July 7, which coincided with our pre-produced ‘WWE Smackdown’ program, 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.”

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