Recently, a video has gone viral on the web which shows a group of British Muslims dancing and singing to the son “Happy” by R&B artist Pharrell. Everywhere the video is displayed, the hashtag #HappyMuslims follows (as though you can’t be happy any other way?). This effort by certain British Muslims seems out of place, out of touch, and out of focus in regards to the image problem we are facing in the West today and across the world in general. I disagree with the project not only for reasons in the Sharia, but for reasons rooted in very basic logic and the reality of the society we are living in.
If the intention was to show integration into Western societies with hopes of dispelling common stereotypes, then the message has failed miserably and only justified said stereotypes. If that was not the intention, then it’s confusing that Muslims would create a “Happy” video with only Muslims involved, given that other faith communities find no necessity in doing so, much less have they (I’d be surprised if this was the case). So the video does in fact scream “accept me! Im like you!”. A less desperate effort to accomplish this would simply have been Muslims being in other “Happy” videos without having to make one exclusive to ourselves.
In any case, this video is sending out the message that we must go out of our way to show that we have “conformed” or that we are “not threatening”, thereby playing into the narrative that we are responsible for the unfair stereotypes and that we must correct them, despite the majority of us having nothing to do with terrorism or extremists acts. It also proves how low we are viewed in society and how we are willing to do anything to be accepted — a desperate need for white man’s burden. Even the gay community does not go out of its way to conform. Despite their unacceptable need for us to accept their lifestyle, they at least have the dignity to not try and prove to everyone else how normal (read “straight) they are. So we are actually lower than them in how we respect ourselves because we feel the need to cater to others ignorant perceptions.
Further, there is more than just one stereotype of Muslims. Either you are an “extremist” or you’re a “liberal/moderate”. Most non-Muslims discourse does not see anything beyond these labels. Either you are a staunch secularist (act and believe as everyone else while reserving your religion to the private sphere) and thereby a “liberal/moderate Muslim”, which many non-Muslims will label those in this video…or you’re an “extremist”, which are apparently the rest of us.
This video has only justified those terms and that fallacious dichotomy.