Is Black Panther Islamophobic?

Sami A. Aziz
Feb 19, 2018 · 3 min read

Is Black Panther Islamophobic? I’m still scratching my head as to how people missed this and why no one is talking about it. I guess the magic of movie can pacify anyone. Black Panther references three religions in the movie. One is the religion of the Wakandan people, who worshipped a panther goddess Bast. Second the religion of the Jabari tribe who worshipped an ape God named Hanuman. The third religion is Islam a religion of 1.6 billion people living and breathing today. What is said is often as important as what’s not said and what’s not said is that Islam is a beautiful & legitimate way of life for 1.6 billion people including 300 million+ African Muslims. Black Panther continues the trend of 100s of movies of depicting Muslims as evil, blood thirsty, sexual predators and tying it all into a nice edible gift with Allah as the signature. The scene occurs when the prince, soon to be king, attacks a caravan of trucks to save his lover Nakia. The men are holding women who are wearing Muslim headscarves. One soldier places a gun to a girls head and says “I swear by Allah (wallahi) I will kill her.” When the women are unchained they remove their headscarves, possibly indicating they are not Muslim but Christian or that the women were previously forced to wear hijab and now are free to take it off with the “liberators”. Playing into the narrative that Muslim women need to be freed with force, bombs and guns. Another narrative being repeated is that the perpetrator is clearly Muslim but the victim is unknown in regards to religion. That too is purposeful and well documented by Islamophobia scholars. The fact is that the vast majority of victims of terrorism are Muslim!

Some have dismissed the Islamophobia charge by stating that this scene is a depiction of Boko Haram, a Muslim terrorist group in Nigeria, that has arguably killed and kidnapped more Muslims than Christians. If that was the purpose it should have been made extremely clear and a counter narrative should have been added with the same phrase being used positively or normally as it is really used by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world! What is unsaid is just as important as what is said. 300+ million African Muslims are now represented in front of hundreds of millions of people around the world as terrorist with no counter narrative in a 2 hour 15 film. An everyday Arabic/Islamic term has now been added to the list of terrorist terms we associate with Islam alongside Allahuakbar (God is the Greatest), Jihad (struggle) and Sharia (law). Why does a movie that elevates black people depict one of their religions in such a negative light? As beautiful as the movie was in providing hope for a better future for black people, that future does not include Islam.

See: A Black African Perspective on Black Panther

Faisal Kutty article on this topic in Middle East Eye here:

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