Islamophobia and Valentine’s Day—what do they have in common? Both inspire deep ridicule and discomfort. It was with that in mind that Los Angeles-based writer and activist Tanzila Ahmed started a Twitter hashtag, #MuslimVDayCard, last year and a running conversation on social media to skewer both.
Ahmed whittled down the snarky tweets that flew back and forth into a series of six which she painted, then photocopied to give out to friends. Her project is back this year, and includes witty come-ons like: “You’re #1 on my watch list,” “I’d wiretap that,” and “Stop + frisk me … please.”
MuslimVDayCard is Ahmed’s lighthearted answer to Islamophobia, and the confining stereotypes that trail her as a Muslim woman. “I was thinking about Islamophobia and language around Muslims and love,” she said.
“I was tired of Muslims being put into a box — and tired of being in the box of a non-sexual Muslim woman,” Ahmed said. “So this was my way of reappropriating Islamophobia.” The series is political humor at its best. Cheeky, sharp, with clever puns and lightness of spirit that’s grounded by the reality of Muslim life in this post-9/11 era. Ahmed has found that Muslims love the series and laugh openly at it, whereas many non-Muslims “feel bad about laughing about the jokes.”
The series was also her retort to the popularity contest that was her compulsory grade-school valentine exchange. “Remember how there were always the three extra big [valentines] in the box set? And the popular girl would always get them?”
“I was NEVER the popular girl,” Ahmed says. Now, with this series, Ahmed doesn’t need to wait around for cool valentines, because she’s making them herself.
Click after the jump for the full lineup of cards. And for more of Tanzila Ahmed’s work, head to her blog.