Last week, a YouTube video was released in the UK by a group of young Britons. In the space of a few days, one million people viewed it worldwide. There have been many videos made with Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” since the original video was released – yet this was apparently the first time a video was released that was not based on geography alone, but also on religious affiliation. The “Happy British Muslims” video evoked something of a strong response in the British press, mainstream and otherwise – arguments in favor and against – but one wonders if the point of it was actually overlooked in the midst of the sea or arguments that have erupted.
There were several sets of objections to the video –from within the British Muslim community, and beyond it. A number of Muslim voices on social media felt the video’s Muslims represented a certain subsection of their community (based on the faces they recognized, although no-one could actually identify them all), and did not represent them. Ironically, their concerns were shared by some anti-Muslim voices in social media, who insisted that for every “Happy Muslim” there were those who were sympathetic to extremism and radicalization. For both objecting crowds, the video was deceptive.
Social and political problems
It’s probably the most “unhappy” part of the video – it is, in itself, a reaction to feeling alienated from existing community structures and institutions – both Muslim and non-MuslimH.A. Hellyer