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‘Muslim Hipsters’ Backlash by Layla Shaikley Essay (Critical Writing)

In the article, the author shares thoughts about her experience of being a Muslim in America. She recollects how she became the co-founder of the #mipsterz (Muslim hipsters) and the path she had to take before directing the video – “Somewhere in America.” According to the author, she felt uneasy and unconfident as the video became increasingly watched and trending because her face grew popular on the Internet.

This popularity was connected to the ambivalent reactions of people in America as well as across the seas – the combination of support and admiration with harsh criticism and narrowness. The main idea of the video was to demonstrate that even though people choose to maintain their religious identity (wear hijabs), it does not mean that they cannot be involved and succeed in mainstream activities, whether they are traditional American activities (for instance, soccer) or leisure (skateboarding, science or sports).

In addition, the author recollects the life she, as well as all members of the American Muslim community, had after the terrorist attacks of September 11th – Islamophobia and non-acceptance by the majority. Because the video showed that American Islam is not associated with terrorism, it was supported by the majority of the community members, although the overall reaction to it was ambiguous.

The main reason behind the support of the video is that it showed how American Muslims lived – regardless of excessive Islamophobic intentions, they led normal lives with interests, hobbies, and achievements. All in all, it was an accurate representation of the Muslim community – a minority in modern America that is commonly either underrepresented or misrepresented (Shaikley, 2014). That being said, regardless of the narrow focus on the life of Muslim women in America, the article is more than just a mere description of the author’s story and the video created by her. Instead, it is a comprehensive piece of writing addressing different groups of the modern community that aims at promoting social justice and equality.

Based on everything that was mentioned above, there are several main arguments that are visible throughout the article. To begin with, religion does not determine who people are. Even though it predetermines acceptable patterns of thinking and worldview, it still does not make a person someone who they really are not. In addition, religion is a subject of severe stereotyping: just because one wears a hijab, others perceive them as either terrorist or possessing a particular set of characteristics, such as voicelessness, submissiveness, violent oppression, naïve desexualization, and lacking agency (Shaikley, 2014).

All in all, just because someone is different on the outside (in particular, wears hijab and avoid excessively revealing clothes), they are believed to be somehow different on the inside – without the ability to have interests and achievements similar to those of ordinary people – the majority. In other words, judging a person by religion points to being limited in one’s perception of the world as a whole and humanity in particular.

In addition to stressing on the role of religion in seeing other people and stereotyping, the author pays special attention to the differences between people within one community – American Muslims. For instance, she focuses on varying interests of Muslim women – from professional fencing to dentistry and architecture – as well as ambiguous reactions to the same story – the video prepared by the author herself and other women belonging to her community.

Based on the existing differences, another main argument is the following: even though religion predetermines an acceptable worldview common for the members of a particular religious community, it does not make all of its members monolithic. In other words, regardless of having the same religious background, all people always remain individual and subjective.

Before proceeding with the critique itself, it is essential to focus on several other essential elements of the article. To begin with, one of the imperative factors is the audience. Because the piece of writing aims at sharing the story of creating the video, the audience is everyone who watched it and questioned the motives behind the initiative.

However, taking a closer look, it is obvious that the real audience is mainstream American citizens who fail to understand that religion does not make anyone different from the majority population as well as the Muslim people themselves who may be afraid or uneasy when integrating into the American society due to Islamophobia. Even though the mentioned group is Muslim women, it does not necessarily mean that they are the target people to be addressed. Instead, the focus is made on empowering all Muslim people to become actively involved in the activities of their interest regardless of stereotypes and social non-acceptance.

Now, as all main arguments and elements are clear, it is possible to assess them. First and foremost, the audience was properly addressed. It can be explained by the fact that there were numerous references to the personal experiences of Muslim women in order to empower them as well as ordinary Americans with the aim of overcoming the existing social gap. For example, think of the experience of the author itself as well as recollections of personal achievements of other women and stressing that they were natural in the video.

It means that the focus was made on erasing differences between the major American group and the minor Muslim community. All in all, the article was informative enough because it not only shared the story of creating the video but also explained it as well as paid special attention to reactions to this video. Due to the gradual presentation of information, it can be said that the article is properly structured so that the audience is addressed and the main objectives are achieved. Speaking of the major objectives, they involve empowering Muslim people and educating the ordinary Americans.

In addition, it is essential to note that reading the article for the first time, the logic and flow were questioned because it was complicated to identify the main themes and audience. Nevertheless, once the reading was completed, all issues became clear, and it turned out that the information is presented in a logical manner regardless of the ambivalent first impression. All in all, the article, as well as the author’s logic, did make sense, especially viewed from the perspective of the necessity to achieve the main objectives of writing. Speaking of logic and flow, it is imperative to point to the use of examples to support main arguments. Both personal and professional experiences of the author and women shown in the video served as appropriate examples for supporting arguments and sharing the central message of the piece of work.

Still, it is essential to mention that because of presenting only the stance of the author that is perceived as the position of the Muslim community, the balance was not maintained because the other side of the arguments – rebuttal – was not included.

However, this issue can be ignored because the article is neither a scholarly writing nor an argumentative essay, so, in fact, it does not necessarily play the critical role in understanding arguments. In addition, it can be mitigated by recollecting that the author involved dual perceptions of the video that may be considered as the urge for preserving balance in writing by addressing both supporters of the story and admirers of the video as well as those criticizing it for narrowness and lacking socially vital message.

All in all, the article is a valuable and informative piece of writing. Regardless of some challenges and issues faced during reading and analyzing the content, it is obvious that there were subjective, so, judging the work open-mindedly revealed that it is a comprehensive and detailed article. The author pays special attention to discussing how she came up with the idea of creating the video, as well as shares her personal and professional experiences.

It is imperative to note that including the video is a wise decision because, without watching it, it would be impossible to judge ideas represented in the article as well as analyze it as a whole. Summing everything up, just like “video is a celebration of … daily lives [without] symbols associated with the hijab” (Shaikley, 2014), the article is an opportunity to make another step towards building an equal and just society in modern America minimizing prejudice and avoiding religious bias.


Shaikley, L. L. (2014). . The Atlantic. Web.

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"‘Muslim Hipsters’ Backlash by Layla Shaikley." IvyPanda, 13 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/muslim-hipsters-backlash-by-layla-shaikley/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "‘Muslim Hipsters’ Backlash by Layla Shaikley." November 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/muslim-hipsters-backlash-by-layla-shaikley/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '‘Muslim Hipsters’ Backlash by Layla Shaikley'. 13 November.

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