Opposition and Backlash – On the Criticisms of Noor Tagouri’s Playboy Piece

There is so many incidents where the online world of social media is in backlash over a certain statement, a certain decision, or anything of the sort. Especially when it comes to decisions that interfere with common religious thought, this opposition can be vocal.

And that’s totally okay. You’re allowed to be against what a certain person does, just as that person is allowed to partake in that decision (of course, as long as it’s not a decision which will change the way you practice your religion or anything else).

And this brings me right to my topic. Noor Tagouri recently was featured in Playboy (which, to clarify, ended its full frontal nudity in March 2016) as part of their ‘Renegades section’, which, as they write, will highlight this:

“The men and women in this series will change how you think about business, music, porn, comedy, gaming and more. They’ve risked it all—even their lives—to do what they love, showing us what can be accomplished if we break the rules.”

The article itself is titled “Media Wunderkind Noor Tagouri Makes a Forceful Case for Modesty” and is mainly about her career as a journalist and how her hijab plays a big part in that.

The criticism comes from the fact that this feature is in Playboy Magazine, a magazine known for its depiction of nude women. And, as Marshall McLuhan is most famously known for saying, “the medium is the message.”

And some people have the right to be upset, as one person had pointed out in a comment that it diminishes the work Muslim women have done to keep the dignity of the hijab. I’m also sure Noor might’ve guessed there may be some criticism from this action (after all, one of the tougher things about hijab I can imagine is the criticism you receive from everyone else).

Here’s the major problem: Noor does not ever suggest she is writing this article on behalf of the Muslim population, and quite clearly states that her dream is to become the first Hijab-wearing anchor. She doesn’t really talk about Islam or how it should be, and as a matter of fact the piece is really about her inspiring career as a journalist.

Now going back to what I was originally saying, you can of course hold your criticisms and they can be valid. Does every Muslim in the media hold the burden of representing their religion as a spokesperson? Does the fact that Muhammad Ali being interviewed by Playboy or Malcolm X warrant that they receive the same criticism as Noor got from the online community?

But the most important question I should be asking: through all the criticism and opposition, is it ever called for to mock, use heavy and nasty language, look down upon, or even berate Noor for her decision? Never mind that she is a grown woman and can make her own decisions on her career, it just seems pointless to use words like “whore” or criticize the way she practices her religion, or even to put her down. 

Because the most shocking thing about this whole situation is not what Noor did, but how exactly the Muslim world treats another Muslim.

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