Sara S. & Wali Ahmad
Recently, fans of popstar Zayn Malik broke the internet (yet again) when #RemoveItForZayn began trending on Twitter. The hashtag went viral after a couple of fans took notice of a racist song targeting the star that was available for streaming on Spotify, implying that Malik was responsible for 9/11.
While Muslims remain to be the target of Islamophobia, Muslim celebrities are most susceptible to hate speech and bullying. The singer’s biracial identity just happens to be one of the very incessant victims. This time, to the highly offensive song.
The fandom put together a social media campaign demanding the removal of the song from Spotify. Thousands of fans tweeted the hashtag to express their opposition to the situation and their call to action. This resulted in the song being taken down from the music streaming platform a day later.
— ????????????????????????ˢᵗʳᵉᵃᵐ ᶠᵒˡᵏˡᵒʳᵉ (@CharismaticLouu) July 19, 2020
The said song titled “Zayn Did 9/11” focuses on the terrible terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon in 2001. Uma Kompton, the artist, unreasonably implies (in a not-so-decent way) that the singer was responsible for the horrific events. Probably referring to his Arabic name and religious affiliation. Lyrics of the song are, however, downright racist and extremely insulting towards not only Malik but to the religion Islam itself. The repeated use of abusive language makes it inappropriate to be put on any public website.
So an islamophobic and racist song is targeted at Zayn Malik and y’all go silent. He tweets #FreePalestine and he gets DEATH THREATS. so for all you white girls saying youre in love with Zayn and obsessing over Pakistani/Arab culture.. where’s the energy now??????#removeitforzayn pic.twitter.com/HmVzzMtg3w
— fatimah????فَاطِمَة (@fatimahh_ali) July 20, 2020
Even though the song was brought to notice recently, it remained available on platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Youtube since 2017. The artist herself is an infamous parodist and a troll whose Twitter account was previously removed in 2016 due to a series of controversial tweets. Kompton is known for her abusive comments and racist remarks and also remained the topic of a couple of other controversies in the past years.
But hold up! This isn’t the first time something like this targeted Malik. A song with the same name was released back in 2013 by Rucka Rucka Ali, who is known for his dark-humor and parodies. Unsurprisingly, lyrics of the two songs resemble very closely to each other and gave rise to a similar campaign seven years ago too. Directioners took to social media and created petitions to get the song removed. Because, obviously, joking about such sensitive topics does not sit well with everyone.
The artist writes some highly objectionable things in this rap track. He refers to the singer as “Zayn Hussein” the leader of Al Qaedirection and mentions how he planned the attack when he was only 8 or 9. This and his other song “Al Qaedirection” (which follows almost the same plot) was all a part of his shot at being humorous. And it gets even more offensive with every line.
— ???????????????? ¹ᴰ (@itshazaho) July 19, 2020
The fact that these songs are still available on youtube and a few other platforms adds to the anger of Malik’s fans. It also calls for questioning the holes in the content guidelines of these streaming services. Does this evident verbal assault not fall under the category of hate speech? Why did these services continue to make such songs accessible to the public for all these years?
— Yeganeh¹ᴰ (@YGNHSRM) July 19, 2020
Acts of outright racism or even such attempts at making fun of situations that are unpleasant for a number of people should not be provided with a platform as famous as Spotify to be promoted on. Artists like Rucka Rucka Ali are unaware of the impact their humor can have and how it can fuel racial injustice. Youtube and Apple Music along with other websites/apps where these songs are available should understand the gravity of the ongoing events and take appropriate measures to settle everything.