Lynn Cheikh Moussa
On the evening of July 24, ‘The Guardian’ posted an article on their Facebook page which was met with perplexed, angry and amazed reactions. The headline – “Why Muslim supermodels Bella and Gigi Hadid are powerful weapons against Trump” – can be described as the lowest point modern day journalism has reached.
The writer, Hadley Freedman, argues that these models, as a result of their religious background, hold a valuable place in the public’s eye. Successful and thriving in their careers, the Hadid sisters are openly Muslim and still proudly standing in the face of Trump’s blatantly racist and Islamophobic policies, Freedman argues.
In short, the Hadid sisters are thought by many to epitomize opposition and resistance, acting as powerful weapons in the face of their president. It is important, however, to evaluate and explain how they attained this reputation in the first place.
The Hadid sisters are known to be Muslim since their dad Mohamed Hadid is a Muslim immigrant who lived in Syria and Lebanon until the age of 14.
The sisters themselves in recent years have grown to occupy a significant place in popular culture. The Hadid name is no stranger to any: it’s all over social media, entertainment TV, and print media. So where does being Muslim play into the mix?
It does not. Why would it? The sisters built their image based on their looks and their obvious presence in Hollywood. They have rarely ever acknowledged their Muslim roots, and when they have, the motive has usually been monetary gain. Back in April, Bella Hadid declared that she is proud to be Muslim, but what seems like a brave declaration in the face of racism is only a mere shout to the public for attention.
Indeed, Bella Hadid succeeded. She had everyone talking about her, and even praising her for being proud of a religion looked down upon by many. Unfortunately, Hadid fails to realize that she is the last thing Trump is afraid of, or opposing, for that matter.
What Trump really fears is the sheer embodiment of the Muslim religion. With all due respect to Hadid, her attempt at getting the public’s attention will not startle Trump in the slightest. She represents the ideal Western, American figure that Trump cherishes, regardless of the name she carries.
Hadid does not fight Islamophobia, because she does not represent Islam.
This is not the only issue here. The bigger issue here is how far people will go to glorify them. How is it even possible to consider two supermodels, whose Islamism is limited to their family name, as powerful weapons against Trump?
In a world where Muslims are feared and avoided, it comes as a relief to see Muslims like the Hadid sisters rise and proclaim their Islamism. The public will praise them, because despite their Islamism, they do not relate to the religion in any way.
What about all the other Muslims in the world, those practicing their religion and those not? What about the Muslims living in Arab countries, carrying Arab nationalities? Are we going to fear them because they are not held highly in the public’s eye as a result of their rising careers as models, and their involvement in popular culture?
The mainstream media has grown to glorify figures that tell the public what they want to hear, but fail to stand for it or even understand it to some extent. Let us not forget Gigi Hadid declaring her gender fluidity for being to able to sport men’s clothing.
Far too often, we have witnessed celebrities being praised because they pretend to be progressive, while they fail to own up to the false image they build. The Hadid sisters are included in this category of celebrities, and should stop proclaiming to be Muslim only when it benefits them.