Recently, the video for Katy Perry’s latest single “Dark Horse” has caused mild furore in the Muslim world. You may not have heard about it because a) you’re not part of the “in” crowd, b) you don’t know who Katy Perry is or c) you really just don’t care.
The video caused a stir when one Shazad Iqbal of Bradford noticed that one of the men in the video who is disintegrated by lightning bolts coming out of Perry’s finger is wearing an necklace carved into the Arabic word “Allah”.
Mr Iqbal believed the video to be “blasphemous” and an insult to Islam, and so did what any rational individual would do – he started an online petition to have the video removed from Youtube. Explaining his reasons for starting the petition, Mr Iqbal wrote: “At 01:15 into the video Dark Horse a man is shown being burned, whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word Allah.
“Blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames.”
He added: “Using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion.”
“My only request is to all artists in the music industry: You have wealth, fame and success – please do not use the foundations of other religions in a mockery to carry out your fame.”
Within a matter of days, thanks to the involvement of the media and the amazing tool that is social media, the petition had gained 65,000 signatures and the offensive pendant had been edited out of the video. Job done, you might think. I disagree.
What I want to know is this, why and how was Mr Iqbal so focused on a Katy Perry video?! I watched that darned thing through twice and could not for the life of me find the pendant – it was only when I saw this that I noted it’s existence:
Now, I’m all for a little controversy now and then. And I certainly appreciate Mr Iqbal’s decision to create an online petition rather than take to the streets ‘Satanic Verses’ style. However, as a Muslim, I’m getting a little peeved off with all these nit-pickers. I wholeheartedly understand that when someone takes the mick out of, or downright insults, something you love you want to go out there all guns blazing and have them withdraw all previous comments/cartoons/videos – but there is a difference between standing up for what you believe in and making a total numpty out of yourself.
Every time something happens that we feel is criticizing Islam, we have to get up in arms about it and make a big hoo-hah. It’s almost like we thrive on the drama we cause. What we don’t realise is that each and every time we cry “insult” or “down with the islamophobes”, we’re simply adding fuel to the fire. We, the Muslims, are portraying our religion as a stuck in time, violent, arrogant doctrine that has no rules about behaving in a way that doesn’t offend others. Wait, wait, don’t all get your pitchforks out at once. I am by no means suggesting that we should keep shtum whilst others walk all over us – but I am suggesting that we need to change the way in which we react. Which is why I felt that Mr Iqbal’s petition, whilst a little silly, was a lot more acceptable than a physical, up-in-arms, protest. I can, however, say with certainty that quite a few of the people who signed Mr Iqbal’s petition will not have viewed the video themselves – just as many of the people who were burning books on their local high streets had not read a copy of Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”. Please. That’s like me deciding I don’t like marmite because my best friend’s dad told me it tastes like camel’s feet.
I’ve now seen people posting online about music producers and singers being involved in a conspiracy to demonise Islam and God, using subliminal messages in their songs and videos. Um, seriously?! I’d agree that raunchy videos and lurid song lyrics add to the deconstruction of morality and respect (especially in so far as misogyny is concerned), but I can’t imagine Jay-Z sitting in his recording studio trying to figure out ways to incorporate anti-Islam messages into his songs. He seems a little bit more concerned about making money than about destroying God-consciousness. Perhaps it’s time we got our heads out and started realising that we’d be better off trying to make the world a better place than we are pointing fingers at everyone who doesn’t do what we think they should be doing.
The saddest thing though, is that nobody thought to EDUCATE Ms Perry – I’ve checked out her twitter page this morning, and not a single person has tweeted her to explain why they felt her video was blasphemous or why she is now being accused of being part of an elect group of people who are ruled by the devil. Considering the video contains a pendant in Arabic (which was definitely not the language of the ancient Egyptians), blue men dancing (the Smurfs were by no means around back then), Ms Perry hollers lyrics about being someone’s “Aphrodite” whilst dressed as an Egyptian Queen and there are MC Hammer pants on the guy in the background in the second picture; it really does seem as though Ms Perry could use a little edumacating!
That aside, has anyone thought that had all those 65,000 people spent that time focusing on something a little more constructive and a little less ridiculous, we could be making a difference in the world?! So, I really hope you don’t mind Ms Perry & Mr Iqbal, but I’d rather focus on something a little more necessary, like helping people in Syria, raising money for orphans and the ill, investing in clean water worldwide or even volunteering in my local community…as long as I don’t have to listen to that awful song!
EDIT: Before I get burned at the stake for calling Katy Perry “evil”, let me point out that I don’t know Ms Perry, and I’m sure she’s a perfectly lovely human being. Even if her live rendition of “Unconditionally” on X factor did make me want to rip off my own ears and feed them to the local cat.