Hilltop Voices: Grace Webber on Zayn and Islamophobia

Grace Webber, freshman accounting major, reflects on Zayn’s decision to leave One Direction and the Islamophobia that surrounded his departure.

The latest display of ignorance and Islamophobia was spurred by Zayn Malik’s decision to leave the wildly successful boyband, One Direction.  Not only have people decided to impose their opinions on his personal decision but comments have become hateful and offensive. It is a problem when members of a society judge others based on their personal decisions, but it is a whole other issue when hate is added into the mix.

This is by far not the first instance of this kind of offensive behavior being shown toward Malik; however it is the first time his treatment has become so publicly visible. Throughout his five years in the band, Malik has been stereotyped because he is half-Pakistani and a Muslim.  Since the formation of the group he was immediately labeled as the mysterious bad boy of the group, because of his silent demeanor during interviews.  However, his white counterparts in the band were simply “being themselves” when they were less vocal in interviews.  With Malik’s exit from the band, rumors began circulating that he did so to join the extremist group ISIS.  Not only is this blatantly racist, but it is also completely unfounded.

Next, Malik was slammed by Bill Maher when he compared Malik to the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  Maher is a political satirist that has been known to make insensitive comments, but his comments illustrate how racist sentiments can be shielded behind satire.  Our society has an issue with failing to draw the line between what is funny and what is downright insulting.  Maher’s statements follow Giuliana Rancic’s racist jokes about Zendaya’s hair at an award show, further demonstrating the growing trend of hiding behind so-called humor to make hurtful comments.  Comedy loses its humor when material becomes truly offensive rather than light-hearted.

The treatment of Malik demonstrates malicious Islamophobia within our society.  I think many people are under the impression that Islamic extremists represent a large majority of that religious group, which is just completely incorrect.  A whole group of people is stereotyped and then blamed for the actions of a small section of radicals.  Imagine if all Christians were assumed to be the same as the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK. That is just totally inaccurate and would obviously incite anger among a large portion of our society.  This is essentially the comparison being made between all Muslims and terror groups.

The comments that have been made about Zayn Malik may seem like an isolated incident, but they go to show a huge problem. Islamophobia is obviously very present within our society and our culture.

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