Dragging up Islam

Muslim drag queen.jpg

Every instinct in my body told me to avoid the show at all costs, and yet here I sit, on a Monday night having just finished watching Muslim Drag Queens.

Despite not wanting to get involved in the discussion, I sealed my fate the moment I opened Twitter to find the hashtag brandishing hatred and intolerance en masse. I actually took a moment to groan and put my head in my hands with the tired patience of a weary parent who has told their child, again and again, not to play with fire and now watches as they cry in pain.

 While the documentary may be insightful and valid, it’s entirely unhelpful.

We’re not adding a crucial dimension and depth to discussions about Islam here. Instead, we’re once more propping Islam up as an object of hate and ridicule. At no point is it aiming to eradicate the insurmountable divide between Muslims and the Western world. It’s just dragging it out and once more poking at its oh so soft underbelly in the hope it can get a reaction.  

And what a reaction it received. Half of Twitter are stoking the flames of hell for Asifa while the other half adamantly declare that although they’re Muslim, they’re not gay.

I’m ridiculously, bone weary of Islam once again being split into such glaring binaries. ISIS runaway, oppressed women, beaten wives and now, we’ve just added drag queen to that list.  

Don’t misunderstand me; I am in no way against telling this story. But it should be acknowledged that this story isn’t the majority or the rule, but the minority and the exception. The stories of Muslims living integrated lives in the West – in which no one is blown up or runs away to join a Syrian army – is silenced once more in favor of a good laugh. Islam has fast become the freak show we all love to watch, the horror story we can’t quite tear our eyes from. Our habit of showing only the extreme sides of Islam is just another nail in the coffin of a hugely misunderstood and misrepresented religion.  

It now looks like I’ll be spending my days apologising for the latest bomb threat, as well as convincing people I was, in fact, born a women. Although worryingly, I do have quite broad shoulders and an unhealthy love for big bags, so it’s not going to be an easy task.

Salma El-Wardany