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Muslim Group Criticized: Lack of Diversity in Promotional Video



Source: illMuslims

Social enterprise illMuslims is under fire for recently sharing a video that aimed to celebrate the Muslim community in America. The viral video, titled “This Is What Muslim America Looks Like,” received immediate backlash. The video was posted on the group’s Facebook page. Many people believe that it lacked proper representation of those who follow the faith. There are over three Million Muslims living in America and thus, the United States is no stranger to Islam.

Source: illMuslims

The promotional video was published by NowThis. It was pointed out that the nearly four-minute video featured no black Muslims. Muslim-Americans comprise about one percent of the country’s population. Reliable data has shown that about a fifth of Muslims in America are black. A research has also put black Muslims as the second largest group of Muslims in the U.S. This research was conducted by the Pew Research Centre.

The illMuslims platform, which was founded in 2014 by creators Rummi Khan and Sadaf Javaid, is meant to promote creative output for millennial Muslims.

The video has also been called out for some contradictory portrayals of Muslim life and their beliefs. This includes one scene in the video that shows a DJ mingling and dancing between sexes. Some Muslims have deemed such clip as quite controversial and not culturally acceptable.

The group has issued a response to the public outcry.

They also said that they were inspired by everyone’s passion and looked forward to addressing the feedback and comments that were received. They also trust that their future guest will conduct themselves in a responsible fashion.

Anaum Cheema, the Youth Community Outreach Coordinator for the Anne Arundel County Muslim Council, weighted on the controversial video.

“I feel as though this video and the creators of the illMuslims had good intentions but poor execution. Note that, one; they placed emphasis on the cultures that they knew best. Two, they are part of the South Asian and Arab cultures, that is predominantly represented by Muslims in pop culture.

“Unfortunately, they have unknowingly contributed to the erasure of other Muslims that do not fit this stereotypical Muslim look.”

When asked about how groups like illMuslims can reach their goal of connecting Muslims amongst themselves and communities, she replied:

“Serving on a Muslim council allows me to help bridge the gap between my Muslim community and other communities. These include non-Muslim organizations and politicians. As such, I can understand the challenge that illMuslims tried to address.

“This is because we as Muslims have been so ‘othered’ in society. For non-Muslims to see what the Muslim faith is like, I invite them to events that are specific to our faith.”

“When they come to our mosque, they see that our religion holds the same values as non-Muslim people. Values such as community togetherness, being charitable, and being a good person overall.”

Cheema went on to speak on scenes depicting non-alcoholic cocktails and nightclubbing.

“It just seemed very much like they were seeking the validation of non-Muslims by trying not to appear different. That we can have the same fun as other Americans in different faiths.”

While the group and their video have received some support for their good intentions to bring Muslims in this country together, this video fell short in doing so.

Source: illMuslims

However, this will not stop future projects that follow ‘this same route’ from being developed. That is, the route that has the purpose of embracing inclusiveness through greater representation of the Muslims in America.

By: Mohamad Hashash

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