The phrase “Allahu akbar” is a normal one for Muslims all over the world - but for a lot of Western countries, and for every rhetoric to draw up an anti-Islam narrative, this phrase has been butchered through history, and associated with radicalism and has been politicized. It's been turned from a simple everyday phrase into a threatening war cry.
Ramy Youssef being un-apologetically himself and his identity, complete with Egyptian music playing for him when he started walking, is making a point. On stage, he says, "“Look, I know you guys haven’t seen my show. We made a very specific show about an Arab Muslim family living in New Jersey, and this means a lot to be recognized on this level.”"Hearing him say it, was his way of thrusting his uncompromised identity into the Hollywood elite diaspora," writes Aymann Ismail for the Slate.
On social media, the phrase has already won people over, making headlines in the Arab world.
But there was one more place it reached - India. On Twitter, people tagged Indian politician, Shashi Tharoor, writer and a former international diplomat who is currently serving as Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Shashi tharoor ko Pasand Nahi aayega. He won't appreciate this.— Safiya Khan (@SafiyaRazi) January 6, 2020
The reason behind his tagging? In December last year, Shashi Tharoor had attracted the ire of Twitter when he had put out a tweet saying that the fight against Hindutva extremism should give no comfort to Islamic extremism either. He was responding to a tweet where an user recited Shahada – one of the Five Pillars of Islam – over the ongoing anti-CAA protests across the country.
He further said that people who are raising their voice over CAA and NRC are fighting to defend an inclusive India.
Our fight against Hindutva extremism should give no comfort to Islamist extremism either. We who’re raising our voice in the #CAA_NRCProtests are fighting to defend an #InclusiveIndia. We will not allow pluralism&diversity to be supplanted by any kind of religious fundamentalism. https://t.co/C9GVtB9gIa— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 29, 2019
This tweet drew him flak who pointed out that the Citizenship Amendment Bill didn't discriminate against any other religion but Muslims.
"Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship."'La illaha illallah' certainly comes within that definition.This is our fight, Mr. Tharoor. Please stop telling us what to do. https://t.co/JEoGXkm4gg— نتاشا Natasha (@nuts2406) December 29, 2019
The Muslims are disproportionately targeted. It is *their* struggle. Not yours. Stop dictating to them what they can and cannot say.— Meraj Hasan (@_merajhasan) December 29, 2019
Tharoor had since clarified what he meant in his earlier tweet.
2. I also understand the primordial place of the Kalima in the Islamic faith. "La ilaha ilallah" is unexceptionable in itself. It's the context that matters here; the phrase ‘tera mera rishta la ilaha illallah’ tends to isolate the community from others whose rishta is to India.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 30, 2019
4. My point is, of course I understand what's at stake for the Muslim community. But that's because the basic idea of Indian pluralism is threatened. Broadbase the cause. You can't fight Hindutva communalism by promoting Muslim communalism. Identity politics will destroy India.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) December 30, 2019
For a larger global audience, Ramy's win may have been the Hollywood representation they had been waiting for all along.