Sadia Azmat, 29, says her job “is to entertain” and if she ends up opening people’s minds… “that’s brilliant.” Ms. Azmat is a British stand-up comedian of Pakistani descent who performs most nights at local London comedy clubs and is a regular on the YouTube channel Bend It TV where she reports the news of the day from her perspective. As Politico puts it, she uses humor to “confront prejudice and shine a light on what it means to be female and Muslim in Europe.”
When Azmat takes the stage, she says she’s trying “to own the narrative, which is usually out of our hands.” In one provocative bit, Azmat tells her audience that “Some people think my parents make me wear the scarf, and that’s not true… No one in my family wears a headscarf, and they don’t even like me wearing it. Like, sometimes when I leave the house they say, ‘Why are you wearing that, people will think you’re going to blow up the bus.’”
According to Georgina Siklossy, a spokesperson for the European Network Against Racism, Muslim women living in Europe face a triple threat of discrimination: bias against their ethnicity, religion and gender. In an already hostile environment that targets Muslims for “not belonging, not sharing European values,” women are particularly vulnerable, says the activist.
“It’s against this backdrop,” reports Politico, “that female Muslim artists, comedians and activists are speaking up about the complexity of their identities and experiences as women, immigrants, Muslims. And they’re using humor as a way to speak directly to those in power and shed light on the inconsistencies and ironies of their anti-immigrant rhetoric.”