Everyone Should Read This Journalist's Response To A Woman Pretending To Be Muslim For TV

The pointed reply addresses many stereotypes that plague the Muslim community and flips them around.

Earlier this month, the U.K.'s Channel 4 aired a documentary called My Week As A Muslim that featured a White, non-Muslim woman named Katie Freeman going undercover in "brownface" make-up and a hijab to illustrate the Islamophobia faced by Muslim women.

For many in the Muslim community, the documentary was a poor attempt at empathy because it took a non-Muslim woman disguising herself as a Muslim and coming face-to-face with the racism and derogatory comments Muslim women encounter on a regular basis to show what many marginalized groups have dealt with for decades.

In response to the controversial documentary, journalist Ruqaya Izzidien wrote a satirical account for The New Arab that bluntly turned the tables and imagined what it would have been like for a Muslim man named Saeed to do the same in a documentary called My Week As A White Non-Muslim. In her pointed retort, Izzidien addresses many stereotypes that plague the Muslim community, but flips them on their head in a thought-provoking way.


"I have always been afraid of white people; on the rare occasion that I see one, I can only associate them with the racist attacks that inevitably follow," Izzidien writes in the second paragraph, alluding to the fact that Freeman's documentary, according to The Independent, was filmed during the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last May.

Throughout the satirical piece, Saeed learns several important lessons from his host — a White man named Roger — which parallels the time The Sun reports Freeman spent with a Muslim woman named Saima Alvi and her family while filming My Week As A Muslim. "Roger told me that it can be really hard to be a White man right now. Men like Roger are constantly having to defend themselves against the actions of other White men, he told me," Izzidien writes, hitting on a common frustration many Muslims face after every terrorist attack. "When I asked him to explain why the majority of sexual predators are White men, he got defensive. He didn't like that I attacked him for something that other men do, but I think he needs to do more to answer for the actions of his community."

The notion that an entire religion should not be held accountable for the actions of a handful of extremists is one that Izzidien makes a concerted effort to really drive home. 

"Roger is just a human being, like me," she writes as Saeed. "A pretty shitty one, let's be honest, but he should not be held accountable for the mass murders, the wars, the genocides of the past and present, because, you know, he didn't actually do any of them."

In conclusion, Izzidien touches on the crucial problem many in the Muslim community and beyond had with Freeman's My Week As A Muslim — the idea that the experience of another group is only validated and believed when someone with a background similar to your own experiences it. 

Many took to Twitter to question why Channel 4 felt the need to disguise a non-Muslim woman in the first place:

"I needed to see this first-hand, because, as I learned from Channel 4, you cannot simply take a community at their word when they say they are normal, harmless people," Izzidien as Saeed, concludes. "You can never really believe it unless someone from your own ethnicity proves it."


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