Newsweek’s provocative and shoddy article by Ayaan Hirsi Ali caused a Twitter storm – one that encapsulated the best response to prejudicial attacks
With the #muslimrage hashtag recently trending on twitter, we’ve learnt yet again that the best way to tackle Islamophobia – far from engaging in self-defeating fiery protests – is to poke fun at it. Such intelligent responses are becoming increasingly necessary, what with a French magazine deciding to re-publish inflammatory cartoons of the prophet, and groups in Canada calling for nationwide screenings of the ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
Newsweek, with its ever dwindling readers, decided in one of a string of last gasp efforts, to shock readers into parting with their change, utilising a juvenile headline (MUSLIM RAGE: HOW I SURVIVED IT, HOW WE CAN END IT), a well cropped picture of two fairly scary looking bearded fellows, and the writings of a certain notorious Islamophobe: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Why the magazine feels the Somali-Dutch agitator is an authority on the recent unrest is beyond comprehension. Quite aptly, California based playwright and comedian Wajahat Ali joked: “Asking Ayaan Hirsi Ali to write a Newsweek feature on Muslims is like asking Pamela Geller to represent makeup. Extreme and unbalanced.”
In many an interview Ali has stated that Islam in general, not simply extreme interpretations, needs to be tackled head on. In what is a reductive analysis, she describes those behind the recent violent protests not as a tiny fringe group, but ‘representative of the mainstream of contemporary Islam’. News to most of us. Entertaining the possibility that protests could be due in part also to grievances other than the now infamous video was of course completely out of the question.
Ali feels that Muslims owe a great deal to the US. In a Huffington Post interview, she states that America is ‘faced with the daunting task of preventing conflict as much as it can.’ Clearly involvement in illegal wars, thousands of extrajudicial killings via unmanned aerial Drones, the propping up of close to every dictator in the Arab and Muslim world, and selling a record $33bn worth of arms to the great purveyors of human rights and liberty – Saudi Arabia – all serve this very purpose, and doesn’t warrant ill feeling on part of the region’s masses towards the US.
Indeed she argues issues of liberty brought to light during the recent Muslim protests reflect a problem America ‘has been grappling with since the storming of her embassy in Tehran in 1979’. The fact that governments in America and Britain practically held the entire populace of Iran hostage for decades prior to this event – as Steve Kinzer of the NYT pointed out some years ago – via the brutal Shah, unsurprisingly, is glanced over.
Returning to Newsweek; in desperate straits, the magazine has made quite a thing out of resorting to infantile sensationalism as of late: the Guardian’s piece on the fuss highlights an August 2012 headline dubbing Obama ‘America’s first gay president’. Many of us also haven’t forgotten Niall Fergusson’s clumsy error strewn attack on the Democrats at around the same time, entitled ‘Hit the Road, Barack’. Mockingly, and hinting at journalistic double standards towards Muslims, Max Blumenthal suggested a title for next week’s headline: ‘Jewish Rage: How Israelis Are Lynching Non-Jews, How Mainstream Media Covers It Up’.
I for one however, am grateful for the magazine’s latest move. Its attempt to garner publicity by asking readers to use the designated #muslimrage hashtag to discuss the article led to ridicule of royal – roll on the floor laughing – proportions, leaving many of us giggling like five year olds for much of Monday evening.
Here are some of my favourites:
Leila @LSal92 ليلى
Lost your kid Jihad at the airport. Can’t yell for him. #MuslimRage
Imad Mesdoua @ImadMesdoua
“What do you mean you don’t serve chocolate milk at this pub?!” #muslimrage
Not knowing how many cheek kisses are due #muslimrage
Tom Gara @tomgara
So you’re telling me that in this entire sporting goods store you don’t have a single ski turban? #muslimrage
Can’t remember if it’s the 3rd rakat or 4th. #muslimrage
Shawarma with no garlic sauce? #MuslimRage
Salman Mohammed @SalmanMSundahan
When an elder burps during taraweeh, and you do all you can just to stay conscious #muslimrage
How do you kiss with that beard? #muslimrage
B i l a l @BilalSpeaks
When someone makes a stupid film which looks like an 8 year old made it and idiots violently over react and make us look bad#muslimrage
Shaheryar Mirza @mirza9
Fox news. #muslimrage
I told my shrink I was feeling suicidal and he reported me to the FBI #muslimrage
Reza Aslan @rezaaslan
Memo to those few violent MidEast protesters, this is how you fight Islamophobia. You make fun of it. #MuslimRage
Dalia Mogahed @DMogahed
When I wear a white hijab to a TV interview with a white backdrop.#floatingHead #MuslimRage
Lowering your gaze and bumping into a lamppost. #MuslimRage
Ali Abunimah @AliAbunimah
BREAKING: NYPD vows to protect Wall Street holy sites from angry protestors bent on offending the profit. #s17 #MuslimRage
Juan Cole @jricole
Television ‘experts’ saying Iran is an “Arab” country. #MuslimRage
المشير أبو كار @Sarahcar
A new column by Thomas Friedman #muslimrage
Saad Malik @SaadMalik
Doing wudu in a public bathroom and someone walks in just in time to see your foot in the sink. #muslimrage
Saad Malik @SaadMalik
Dude praying next to you takes “foot to foot, shoulders to shoulders” way too seriously. #muslimrage
You have TVs in your country? #TrueStory #MuslimRage
You’re 24 and not married?! #MuslimRage
Amro Ali @_amroali
When you can never get that eternal question out of your head, how do you find the Qibla when you are in space? #MuslimRage
Danya Hajjaji @DanyaHajjaji
When everyone in history class turns to you once 9/11 is brought up. #MuslimRage
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