It seems the Muslim is easily insulted. He- the Public Muslim tends to be male- objects to art unless strictly Islamic and music is also Haraam. The Muslim wrath sure reared its ugly head when writer Salman Rushdie got fatwa-ed by the Ayatollah of Iran for alleged blasphemy in his novel the Satanic Verses back in the shoulder-padded 1980s. It was that ugly that the novel’s Japanese translator got killed and Rushdie was forced to live in hiding for over a decade. Closer in time Mali, a predominately Muslim country in West-Africa with a culturally diverse make-up, has become a theatre of war with Islamist extremists in the role of antagonist. These characters are by no means digging Mali’s interpretation of Islam, in which music is almost considered holy and worship is often mixed with animist traditions.
After the airing of the first episode of Citizen Khan, billed as the first Muslim sitcom, the Muslim doesn’t seem to have a sense of humour either. The episode received 185 complaints and counting regarding stereotypical portrayal and insulting Islam and might face an Ofcom investigation. I thought first and foremost that Citizen Khan is solid prove that ginger jokes even work in a Muslim setting.
Humour is often seen as the ultimate sign of development. Understanding the humour in and of a foreign language is the final step towards cracking the linguistic and cultural code. Being able to laugh at yourself is a sense of maturity, you don’t take yourself too seriously anymore.
Now, I am aware that the Muslim- like the Jew or the Christian- doesn’t exist. The Public Muslim, however, the dangerous extremist, who takes his religion way too seriously for his own and the common good and who is considered a threat to the Western way of life, is in dire need of a makeover, unlike the Public Jew or the the Public Christian, who are, despite ever-present anti-Semitism and an atheist fundamentalist campaign, far less sharply defined.
Considering the image issue Muslims are facing the Umma could do with a decent PR officer. As that might seem a bit of a far-fetched plan, a sitcom, besides a British Muslim double gold medallist- go Mo!- for the entertainment of the Muslim and non-Muslim alike would be a very good alternative.
And perhaps those complaints have little to do with religion and more with culture as those complainants didn’t hesitate to exercising their British right to whine.