Hide your kids. Hide your wife. Dreamy U.K. boy band One Direction is determined to convert each and every all-American kid into a superfan — of Islam, apparently. At least that’s the theory of blogger Debbie Schlussel, whose recent claim that band member Zayn Malik is “pimping Islam on your kids” has lit up the Twitterverse and driven the otherwise cryptic hashtag #TurkishDirectionersAreProudOfZaynsReligion to the top of the Twitter charts:
How big is One Direction? Huge. Next year’s tour dates have already sold out. Debut single “What Makes You Beautiful” — with a lyric surgically targeted toward its demographic of awkward preteen girls (who suspected they were beautiful but longed for third-party confirmation) — has sold more than 2 million copies, and the accompanying YouTube video has garnered 167 million views. The boys have guest starred on Nickelodeon hit “iCarly” (following in the steps of first lady Michelle Obama) and count the president’s daughter Malia as a fan. Secret Service agents, trained to give their lives at a moment’s notice, perhaps said a quiet prayer before venturing into the teeming and screaming masses to accompany Malia to witness “1D” in concert near Washington D.C.
One Direction is an even bigger phenomenon in Britain, and every move made by the five lads who make up the group is front-page material. (Yes, the U.K.’s Sun newspaper even managed a story about which member has the worst foot odor.) So it’s no surprise that Schlussel’s interpretation of the band’s one direction (“facing Mecca”) has made the papers in a big way. The basis of her claim rests largely on a tweet from August (about 10 months ago):
Translation la ila ha ill lalla ho muhammed door rasoolalah
— zayn (@zaynmalik) August 25, 2011
This translates as “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” a “militant statement” in Schlussel’s book. Schlussel also points us to a photo of a smiling and shirtless (and hunkishly hairless) Malik with a sinister-looking Arabic tattoo on his chest. This translates to “Walter,” which presumably could be Jihadist code language but more likely is a tribute to Malik’s grandfather. (Any superfan will tell you he also sports tattoos of a decidedly non-Muslim yin/yang symbol as well as several others — never mind that tattoos are considered haram [forbidden] by many Muslims as they are considered an alteration of Allah’s creation.) The other One Direction story in the U.K. papers today recounts how the lads were kicked out of a Vegas casino for being underage. Gambling is also haram, so let’s agree on this if nothing else: if Malik is trying to use his vast celebrity influence to indoctrinate our daughters into militant Islam, he’s doing the worst job possible.
And herein lies the question: if a tweet such as this by Malik, the son of a British Pakistani father and English mother, can lead Schlussel to conclude that “Jihad is sneaking into American girls’ favorite pop band,” then how seriously can we take Schlussel’s claim, above, that she’s now being “attacked” by the U.K. press. For those keeping score, the Telegraph’s “attack” consisted of calling her blog post a “rant,” while the Sun characterized it as “outrageous.”
Some One Direction fans were more spirited:
@DebbieSchlussel Your racist, don't judge Zayn because of his religion. It's low and very sick.
— Abbie (@AbbOneDirection) June 21, 2012
For his part, Malik hasn’t responded via Twitter or otherwise. In fact, his most recent tweets are a week old and a bit harder to parse for malicious intent:
this bath is amazing 🙂 thumbs up aha
— zayn (@zaynmalik) June 11, 2012
🙂 chillin ,
— zayn (@zaynmalik) June 11, 2012
Perhaps this is the most sensible course of action in the face of Schlussel’s over-the-top attack.
Previous Twitchy coverage of One Direction: