• David Ross

    I’d be interested in your response to this.


  • And what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
    Wafa Sultan is a noted advocate of Islamophobia, who supports nuking Muslims. http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/12/wafa-sultan-is-better-known-as-wafa-stalin-sultan/ Enough said.
    next question.

  • Hm, I think you’re overlooking the fact that media imagery is really powerful and serious. I believe the petitions don’t go far enough because they don’t address the racism, Orientalism, and gross cultural appropriation in the video. There is tons of literature and work out there that shows how things like cultural appropriation are extremely serious and harmful to communities of color. Indigenous women activists and scholars, for example, have written about the connections between cultural appropriation and sexual violence.

    I completely agree with you that we need to care about those other issues and struggles you mentioned (Syria, drones, anti-black racism/violence, poverty, etc.) However, I would disagree with you by adding that racist, Orientalist imagery also plays a role in propagating racism and violence against people of color. This goes beyond thinking that this video is only offensive to Muslims due to the way they used the “Allah” necklace. It’s about recognizing how this long history of cultural appropriation reduces religiously and/or culturally significant symbols, artifacts, clothing, practices, etc. into the “meaningless” and treats these things as “exotic” and profitable. It’s about the exoticism of black bodies, the subordination of people of color, and the use of their bodies to sell. As one piece on cultural appropriation writes, “cultural appropriation is a by-product of imperialism, capitalism, oppression, and assimilation… Imperialism functions by subordinating groups of people and territories and extracting everything of value from the colonized people and territories. In the case of cultural appropriation, culture is treated as a ‘natural resource’ to extract from People of Color.”

    This same logic is used to steal land and resources from people of color. It’s this theft that is being propagated in the images of this video. It’s this constant theft that we need to be outraged by rather than simply make it a “Muslim only” issue based on the use of the “Allah” necklace.

    So, while I disagree with the framing of the petition, I don’t agree that we should dismiss this as a “pseudo-controversy.” I think we need to connect it with the other issues and struggles you mentioned. There is a lot of literature and work out by people who have been critiquing media representations, particularly those of people of color, and the research has shown that things like cultural appropriation and negative media depictions *do* have a significant impact in the real world.

  • Wait, how was she trying to cause controversy again?
    Oh, that’s right. I forgot she was fluent in Arabic and that she carefully plotted that half second of her video where some dude turned to ash while wearing a neckless that said “Allah” in Arabic. Silly me.

    I’m going to go on a limb here and suggest that she had no idea what that neckless said and that she had no idea anyone would be so outraged by the half-second in which it half appeared in her video. If she really wanted to cause controversy, she would have made it a tad more obvious and maybe even had the camera focus on the neckless for a full second or something. It might have even been in the full frame of the shot.

    Maybe instead of blaming Perry for being a entertainer, you could perhaps blame those who are issuing death threats against her for this “controversy” which she almost certainly didn’t intend. Think about it.

  • Daria

    Oh and girls can kiss girls here where we have human rights. And they can do it for attention too and that’s ok. In open societies people can live without being judged. And homosexuals are not stoned to death and women are not forced to abide to ridiculous modesty rules.

  • Matthew

    I agree completely!

  • Matthew

    Hey Omid,

    Does this article on muslimmatters.org, a US tax-exempt organistaion, offend you? It says all non-muslims are kaafirs who will go to hell. I wonder if the author thinks we are kaafir why he accepts our tax-exempt status? How about the countless videos insulting non-muslims on youtube? How about a petition for those?


  • Did you miss your Robert Spencer Fan Club meeting today?

  • Daria, you seem to have completely missed the point that I wasn’t critiquing Katy Perry for her lesbianism, but for her Faux-Lesbianism. Read the link, then comment.

  • Mohammad Salman Khan

    I second that..

  • Razeem

    I noticed you don’t publish most comments you don’t agree with. Too offensive Omid? Pretty soon you will censor speaking to the degree that all non-muslims will have to be mute.

  • Daria

    Omid, where is my comment regarding faux-lesbianism? Why did you censor it? As a Muslim woman, I still have a right to disagree with you and Mast’s opinions.

  • Daria

    Actually, Omid I did read the link and I was referring to the faux-lesbianism. Women’s rights mean we can do what we like with our bodies including used in ways you deem as faux-lesbiansim ( which in her eyes was probably just fun).
    And Mast, I do not agree with Robert Spencer as I am Muslim too but I am sick of my community taking offence with everything and constantly telling me to be modest. I’d rather be tolerant and compassionate.

  • Daria

    Thank you Mohammad, more of us need to speak about the violation of freedom of speech everyone is subjected to because of religious sensibilities.

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  • ghazala irfan

    completely agree

  • I don’t publish the comments, they are posted on the site directly.

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  • Brilliantly put, thank you. But…. is it bad of me that I didn’t actually realise that Katy Perry *sang*. I just assumed she was one of those celebs who is famous for being a celeb, and dating other celebs. Hence, I guess, the need to generate pseudo-controversies…

  • Donovan

    “she had no idea what that necklace said…” You have got to be kidding. What kind of artist has NO IDEA about what their music/noise & their videos depict & subsequently signify? She is worse of an artist than she already is if she does not know what her videos demonstrate, especially when they are videos depicting other religions. Why use the necklace used in the video as opposed to a cross, hindu sculpture, or other religious artifact? The ankh was very popular in Egypt after all.

  • Madeeha

    ‘Kafir’ means ‘a person who does not believe in Allah’. Kafir is equivalent to atheist. It’s not a swear word!

  • noko

    Yet whistleblowers get locked up in jail and the key thrown away.
    Your “society” is not quite open is it?

  • Zach

    This may come as a shocker Professor Safi, but I hope you realize that while many of the terrible things you mentioned in your article (the current events in Syria for example) have nothing to do with Katy Perry. She is a music entertainer, not a human rights protestor or a foreign affairs ambassador. Just because the song doesn’t have a #HelpSyria or #FightRacism plastered over it shouldn’t completely discredit it for what it is. A song. It is just a song with a music video that is an anachronism of ancient Egypt, 1980’s color design, and Takashi Murakami.

    Is the song great? Nah, not my taste, but to throw in a bunch of logical fallacies throughout your article to soap box an opinion that boils down to how you just don’t like Katy Perry? I don’t get it.

    In closure, the controversy regarding the necklace is pointless. There should be no controversy. Katy Perry is not releasing this music video in a theocracy. As a Catholic, am I offended by the sculpture “Piss Christ” where a Cruficix is submerged in a vat of human urine? Yeah. I’m “pissed” off. But as an -American- I realize that it is the artist’s right to do what they want so long as it doesn’t bring harm to anyone. If Jesus has an issue with it, he’ll take it up with ’em later. So should having a lightning ray comically disintigrate a blinged out necklace that says the word “Allah” offend people? They are entitled to be offended and voice that opinion yes! But should it be so controversial and offensive to petition to have it -removed-?

    Yes. If you are an Idolater.

    You know who else got offended? Jackasses who painted fabric over Rennaissance nude paintings because they were obscene. Stop censoring art when you know nothing about it.

    IM OUT!

  • Ramia

    When whistleblowers get locked up in jail our entire societies protest and they don’t go and blame other cultures. We have lots of problems but we own up to them. When Muslim women like Malala or Mona Eltahawy stand up for their ills in their own societies they are rejected and criticised by their own societies. Also, we dont start world wide pétitions against your imams who keep calling for the death of infidels.

  • Ramia

    Maddeha, maybe Kafir is not a swar word but that fact that you think that a Kafir will go to hell and does not deserve respect is pretty insulting no? Actually, it is violent and sick and a lot more offensive then a pendant.

    By the way if heaven is full of jerks who send people to hll just for being Kafirs, I would rather go to hell.

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  • Solange

    Well I signed the petition and am happy I did. It was a gratuitous and disgusting misuse of Allah’s Most Beautiful Name, and I’m glad it’s off of that filthy video (which I watched, muted, to see the actual pendant). And maybe I’m a genius, but I’m able to simultaneously care about other issues going on in the world.

  • Naydeens

    You calling a fun and cute video filthy is a disgusting misuse of the beautiful freedom of speech god gave us to create fun things such as music and dance instead of ridiculous things such as offense and oppression of anything that does not agree with your retarded ideologies.

  • Van

    well u are pretty much nuking those imams not issuing petitions which wuld be much more on the lighter side i guess

  • Van

    Muslims have to treat *kafirs* and all other human beings with respect as per islam.. but u guys make it really hard mate

  • Van

    FYI there is no such thing as freedom of speech.. how abt i supporting hitler or disrespecting the holocaust.. im sire u know what happens after that.. i think human beings shuld have enough sense so as not to offend others and dere beliefs using the guise of this freedom of speech thing

  • Daria

    We are the first to be disgusted and horrified by our nuke programs. We hold petitions, protests and write continuous articles asking our government to stop. Our soldiers come back depressed and damaged.
    And the imams spouting hate are safe in the UK and the US benefit from social aid like the likes of Anjam Choudary.

  • Daria

    It was a music video. She had no idea. And when you crazies complained she removed it. What more do you want?

  • Daria

    How by bending over backwards to please all your crazy requests? besides this article clearly does not say muslims ahve to respect kafir. http://muslimmatters.org/2014/01/17/kaafir-new-f-word/#sthash.GARF8SYk.dpuf

    Just the fact that you have a special name for non-believers shows how obsessed you are with having everyone behave as you wish. If you don’t like the West, leave. We don’t go to Saudi and wear bikinis.

  • Atheist Max


    She is commenting on Islam – it is her right.
    You comment on her comment – as is your right, thanks to freedom.

    But….The Clerics of Iran own everyone in that country
    (even non Muslims) under the law of “Valient Alfuqir.”

    At least freedom reigns here and you allowed to have your opinion.
    Unlike the theocracy which oppresses all opinion.

    If your opinion is to be free, you need to know who to thank.
    Those who silence? Or those who allow it?

    Know the enemy. It is religion itself.

  • razan

    Love this Atheist Max! Very well put!

  • Hamid Alhab

    AmAX – thank you for bringing up alfaqir. The Imams are a nightmare.!!!!!
    They do own the people, very few americans understand. What Christians would allow such a things?thans again.

  • Atheist Max

    Here is what you need to know….
    (correct spelling)

    The iron rule of the Islamic jurists.

  • luigi

    Lmao special name for non believers? You mean how we call non believers athiest? Because its the exact same thing.

  • luigi

    Everyone should invite the concept of freedom of speach but rational person should never invite the concept of freedom to insult. Would that lead to good relations among religions? Or would that increase the tension that already exists.

  • luigi

    It says to stone homosexuals in the bible too among other things. If you want to nit pick and act like thats what a whole religion is all about do it fairly.


    Yea but we don’t do it. At worse we don’t let them get married and we are fighting to change that too. But keep whinning Luigi. Dont apprecite the Christian countries who have welcomed you and see how nice it is when they kick you out. More and more we are fed up. Denmark is the 5th country to ban halal meat. France the burka and states in the US are banning sharia law while Canada is getting rid of hijab. Then you can go live in all the hell hole Islamic countries where only money matters and everyone else is treated like dogs. Just look at all the wonderful things Brunei is doing. You dont get it do you? WE ARE FED UP OF YOUR OPPRESSION.

  • David Ross

    Yes. In the interests of her unproven a priori beliefs, she has suspended rational thought. But, then, so have you.

  • Anonymous

    You are mostly missing the point people. She and many artist are called FREE MASONS, ILLUMINATIES etc. There are symbols, subliminal messages in everything they do. Through music, movies, cartoons, concerts you name it. Look it up on YouTube. She knows exactly what she’s doing…

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  • Sarah

    There you go back to how we Muslims dress. Im single and dress modestly and wear a scarf when i can (being that ppl who think like u.often insult me in public) for my choice of wardrobe. No person is telling me how to dress. Your attitude is no better than the countries you complain about.

  • sensitive atheist

    Atheist-Max,…y es! exactly.


    Sarah, I did not say I support the burka ban. Most westerners don’t. If you remember correctly the burka was allowed for a very long time. But people got so fed up of the constant oppression from the religious that they are looking for ways to stop it and take an extreme measures.
    I am sorry people insult you but people insult me all the time on the Streets too. That’s just life. By the way, my friends who are girls are always harassed by hijabi ladies who tell them to dress more modestly so it goes both ways. But bottom line is when you walk around freking out about innoccuous videos and calling every small thing islamophobia, the west will get fed up because it was built on free speech.
    But if Islam is so great why is it that EVERY single one of your Islamic countries have so many human rights abuses, especially towards those without power?

  • lila

    It is a horrible music.

  • David

    I agree that the overwhelming likelihood is that Katy Perry had no idea that the guy was wearing a pendant that said Allah, and that she was not attempting to “raise controversy.” If eyes (rather than heads) are to be rolled over this, I’m not sure why they ought to be directed at her, rather than the people who decided that that 2 second clip was the worst thing about that video.
    In any case, I am quite sympathetic towards artists, even “mediocre” and occasionally problematic ones like Katy. Yes, we in academics and elsewhere are doing “serious” work on real issues, and it’s vital that we do so. But because of Katy Perry, millions of people have felt happiness, and relief from their troubles. Thousands have filled stadiums and cheered for her. Is she perfect? No. Is her music something that will survive this generation? Probably not. But she has given more people direct happiness then I or Professor Safi or probably anyone else on this site. That has to count for something. At the very least, it should earn a slightly less dismissive tone from Important People Doing Serious Work.

  • WHOisTOblame?


  • kevin

    It bothered you enough to write an article about how it didn’t bother you. “Nothing to see here, people. Move on”. If there is nothing to see “here” in your eyes why even write an article about it in the first place? I can’t even believe there is a petition to ban this video. American liberals want to take rights from the Christians but defends Muslims rights so persistently, even thought Islam is far more radical and conservative than any Christian faith. Nothing like another professor like your in the educational system. Can you be anymore whiny and pathetic in your views on this video and faux-lesbianism?

  • Jazmine

    Omid, the problem is that while you are focusing on good things behind the scenes, Katy Perry is spreading this ridiculousness and reaching hundreds of millions of people; that is the problem. Corrupting the mind of youth is a dangerous ability because that youth with grow into adulthood and the images that ms Perry spreads will never quite leave them even if they are better educated in the future.

  • KatyCat 4 Ever

    Donovan please, it’s not like Katy is eagle eye to see a hidden thing.

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