Removed from YouTube, The Muslims Take Their Protest Punk to Facebook Live | Music
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Friday, June 22, 2018

Removed from YouTube, The Muslims Take Their Protest Punk to Facebook Live

Posted by on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge STILL FROM "MUSLIMS AT THE MALL"
  • Still from "Muslims at the Mall"
You need to see The Muslims’ excellent video to their ninety-second punk track “Muslims at the Mall.” After a closeup of someone’s hands squishing cheese through their fingers, Saba Taj wanders through Southpoint Mall, drawing stares in her “Alpha Delta Burqa,” a pink and green burqa made of Lilly Pulitzer fabric and cotton, glitter, gold spray paint, and sequins. It cuts to the band jamming and shouting the words in a garage-like recording space. The only lyric is “Muslims at the mall.”

You need to see this video, but don’t look for it on YouTube. The Google-owned video-sharing site removed it earlier this week because it violated “community guidelines.” The Muslims have since placed the video on Vimeo. YouTube also removed a second video that compiled parts of several songs from the band’s first live performance.

“When I got the notice that said the video was removed, I looked at it and thought ‘Okay, let me make sure I’m reading this right,’” band member Laila Nur says. “I went back and watched it again and I was like ‘This is YouTube—you have much more violent, much more racist content that has existed for a long time, and you’re blocking this?’ It’s baffling.”

YouTube answered an appeal by the band with a generic response. The platform has also ignored requests for comment from INDY Week.

The videos were removed on June 12, a day after Facebook took down a June 9 post on the band’s page announcing the release of their self-titled album, citing its “political content.” The Muslims appealed and Facebook restored the post. Nur says that Facebook has pulled down other posts by The Muslims in the past but has at least been responsive to requests for explanation.

“They’ve been like, ‘The reason we can’t boost that post is because your profile picture has a buttcrack in it,’” she says. “Okay, that makes sense. It’s small, but we hear you.”

The videos, however, have neither offensive content in the vein of a buttcrack nor political content in their imagery or lyrics. The only objectionable content that she can figure is the word “Muslim” itself. This censorship alternately frustrates and amuses Nur, who attributes it either to some kind of flag on the word on the part of these platforms, some campaign by users to systematically report any content containing that word, or both. It echoes a general effort by the political right to criminalize Muslims on the basis of sheer religious identity.

The band will hold a Facebook Live town hall on YouTube’s censorship of their work (“a shit-fest of a conversation,” Nur calls it) on their page today 11 a.m.

“This absolutely won’t stop us,” Nur says. “We’re very sadistic but tender and playful with everything that’s happening. So, even if they never put our video back up, we’re just going to use that. Maybe we’ll take the screenshot of their violation notice and use it as an album cover, and we’ll call it ‘Political Content; or, Fuck YouTube.’ And we’ll just keep on using it. “

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