Dina Tokio and her husband, Sid Khan, are British Muslim social media influencers with over 1 million followers. Their nonjudgmental and silly style elicits discussion among religious and non-religious audiences. From January 2016 through May 2018—a timeframe which corresponds to highly publicized terror attacks in Europe—the couple responded to viewers’ requests for advice via their SidnDina YouTube channel. In the clip above, Sid and Dina’s opposition to forced marriage is expected. There discourse, however, not only rejects forced marriage but creates a framework for young, British Muslim nationality.
Note the couple’s process of dismantling and assembling combinations of identities. First, they disassociate Muslim identity from the practice of forced marriage. Forced marriage is the “backwards shit” of immigrant parents who don’t “move forward” when they settle in the UK. Islam, however, upholds an individual’s right to choose. As Sid and Dina contend, without agreement by both bride and groom, a marriage is “invalid” because it is “haram” (forbidden according to Islamic law).
Second, having separated religious and cultural identity and having rejected the “back home mentality” held by some members of immigrant generations, Sid and Dina link Islam with British nationality. Exercising the ability to choose one’s identities is central to British social attitudes. Per Sid and Dina, children of immigrants have a “British education, British mentality, British everything.” Thus, if choice is central to both Muslim and British culture, the two identities are fundamentally accordant.
Third, having tethered British and Muslim identities via the right to choose, Sid and Dina encourage anyone facing forced marriage to leverage State resources to maintain their religious rights: “Do the extreme, which is call the police [or other government organizations].” Therefore, according to Sid and Dina’s model, British Muslims “take action [to] stop these stupid traditions…” regardless of the legal ramifications or shame that such action may have for their immigrant families.
My analysis raises a question, which I hope we discuss: What might members of democratic societies, whose identities have been historically marginalized, gain and lose by associating a non-hegemonic identity with a hegemonic national identity?