It was supposed to provoke a discussion of why Muslims are so angry in the wake of the release of a film trailer critical of the Prophet Muhammad.
Instead, the hashtag became a way for many to critique Newsweek.
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Lisa Mullins: I’m Lisa Mullins and this is The World, a coproduction of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH in Boston. The wave of antiAmerican violence in the Middle East may not be over any time soon. Today, al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa called for more attacks on US diplomats in the region. The terror group also urged more protests against the antiIslam amateur film that sparked the unrest in the first place. The outrage sweeping Muslim countries has been dominating international news. The most recent cover of Newsweek magazine, for example, was simply titled Muslim Rage. It was accompanied by a picture of outraged Muslims. It was presumably taken during one of the recent protests. And then on Twitter the magazine tried to elicit reaction to the image on the cover using the hashtag MuslimRage. Hashtags are a way of directing and organizing conversation on the social network, but Newsweek’s MuslimRage hashtag quickly got co-opted quite humorously.
Lyla Saleh: I’m not gonna lie, I love a good hashtag.
Mullins: That’s Layla Saleh, a Lebanese American who’s currently volunteering at refugee camps in southern Lebanon. An active Twitter user, she joined in the chorus of those who poked fun at Newsweek’s hashtag. I asked her how she first reacted to the Newsweek cover.
Saleh: It did not depict Islam fairly. I mean they used a man with a beard, angry man, just like showed this very sort of world person just ready to fight the world. And you know, as someone who lives in predominantly Muslim country, this is not Islam to me.
Mullins: Well, I think it looks like what Newsweek was trying to do and the headline there is Muslim Rage, what it was trying to do is provoke a discussion about the protests that have happened in the wake of the release of this film that was made by a few Americans that was so insulting to so many people, particularly people who are of the Muslim faith. So in response to the cover, Newsweek itself said well, why don’t you take on the issue of Muslim rage and presented the hashtag MuslimRage on Twitter, inviting people to write in, as you did. Can you tell us what the tweet was that you wrote in response to Newsweek request?
Saleh: I left a couple of them, but the one that got really popular was “Last year Kid Jihad at the airport, can’t yell for him, Muslim Rage.” I mean I can imagine being at the airport with
Mullins: You can’t yell for him because of his name.
Saleh: Because of his name, yeah. It’s actually a common name here and it’s not just used as exclusively by Muslims, it’s used by many people, Arabic speakers.
Mullins: Because you’re not gonna yell Jihad in the airport.
Mullins: What was–you said you presented another one too, you wrote a couple of tweets. What was another?
Saleh: One left by a tweet, Omaro Ali, where he says, “I get angry when the self proclaimed MSN Messenger pops up, there can be no other messenger.” Of course, he’s talking about Prophet Muhammad, he’s the ultimate messenger. Another one was left by a friend called Remi Kanazi, which is a Palestinian poet, where he said “Just add nighttime and glow sticks; it goes from Muslim Rage to Muslim Rave.”
Mullins: Muslim Rave, like a rave party.
Mullins: I mean what’s your take on this? We don’t know how many of these were actually written by Muslims. It looks like kind of like a sardonic response to what Newsweek was trying to do and that is have a discussion about Muslim rage. So for you, how do you as a Lebanese American woman, how do you read what’s happening there?
Saleh: Well I very much enjoyed seeing people just taking this hashtag and mocking it, and mocking the Newsweek magazine picture. And for me it really shows how people are just unaffected by the stereotypes that are being thrown at Islam, especially now. We’re sort of vulnerable because of this movie. We were tapped initially, I mean this is how I feel personally, we were attacked initially with this movie trailer and yet we’re still perceived as part barbarians, even though they were attacking someone who is so dear to us, our prophet. And we were still able to find humor and we’re still able to find laughter. I’m happy that we were able to find something positive in this.
Mullins: Nice to talk to you, Layla Saleh, thank you.
Saleh: Thank you, thank you very much for having me.
Mullins: To read how some Twitter users are reacting to the MuslimRage hashtag, just go to theworld.org.
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I’m having such a good hair day. No one even knows. #MuslimRage
— Hend (@LibyaLiberty) September 17, 2012
Being randomly selected for additional screening at the airport. Again. #MuslimRage
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) September 17, 2012
When my falafel comes out completely uncrispy #muslimrage
— Randa Jarrar (@randajarrar) September 17, 2012
when my mom got mad at me for putting a pudding cup in the microwave #MuslimRage
— Ayesha A. Siddiqi (@pushinghoops) September 17, 2012
Wrestling is fake? #MuslimRage
— Omar Mohamed (@Collabrone) September 17, 2012