Addressing the bullshit and fear that surrounds their culture, We're Muslim, Don't Panic are rejecting stereotypes while busting out some moves
A dance video featuring a hip-hop group in traditional hijabs has surfaced for this year's Sage Awards, and they're laying it down. Meet We're Muslim, Don't Panic, the group showcasing a politically charged dance sequence, that rejects the Western narrative surrounding Muslim dress.
The three-woman group was formed by dancer Amirah Sackett in 2011. The name of the group itself satirises misconceptions about Muslim culture. After all, Zac Goldsmith recently led a campaign that implied Sadiq Khan, the Muslim candidate, was linked to terrorism. Donald Trump claimed that US General, John Joseph Pershing, shot Muslims in the Phillipine-American war with bullets covered in the blood of pigs. With “Don't Panic” in the group's name, the hip-hop dancers reassure their audience that the fear surrounding their culture is unjustified and they make light jest of their situation.
The group formed in retaliation of the banning of hijabs at French schools. Unfortunately, much of the Western narrative has weaved false ideas about Muslim dress with the notion that it suppresses women. WMDC explain that there is a choice to wear hijabs and women often choose to do so because they find the garment to be liberating. Khadijah, one of the dancers, told the Huffington Post: “I wear the hijab because I like wearing the hijab...I feel as much beautiful as when I don’t wear it. When I didn’t wear hijab I felt like boys were more attracted to me and I didn’t like the way they treated me. Now that I do wear hijab I feel like they respect me more and they look at me as a regular person.”
Sackett explained: “I wanted to flip the script... I wanted to educate others and reflect the beauty that I know and love in Muslim women. Yes, there are oppressed women in the Muslim world. Women are oppressed the world over. These are our mutual struggles”.
Hip-hop has often been used as a medium of expression for those who feel oppressed. WMDC address the Muslim stereotypes of oppressed women by expressing themselves, through hip-hop, wearing niqabs and high-tops. The beginning of their dance sequence at Sage Awards 2015 blares out: “We can no longer be afraid”. Besides that, the ladies bust out some great moves, showing that Muslim women can be both independent and expressive. Sackett said: “When people look at me, they don’t think that I look like a dancer…but when my sister and me start dancing they can’t believe…so my hijab does fool some people”. And rightly so, as WMDC are at once elegant, fluid, and graceful while claiming their place in contemporary culture.