Arts, Culture & Media

It's The Onion for Muslim Americans — and they call it The Hummus

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Credit: The Hummus

The Hummus is a new site modeled on The Onion, but targeting a Muslim-American audience.

Look out, Onion. There's a new humor website edging into your space, and it has a distinctly Muslim-American lens.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The Hummus is a fake news outlet that features headlines like “Muslim Daughter Feared Missing After Father Calls 38 Times Within 5 Minutes," “Conversion Of Ryan Gosling To Islam Halts Arranged Marriages Nationwide” and “Saudi Version of Snow White Features New Mysterious Taller Dwarf, No Snow White.”  

This new site offers a place to go if you really want to laugh about what's going on in the Muslim world — from the Middle East to deep in America. It's a delightful garlicy dip of truth and wackiness.

The anonymous co-founders of The Hummus, "Babba," "Jiddo," and "Kamal," say they have long wanted to engage a Muslim audience with humorous content and the site allows the trio to share their comical observations about Muslim-American culture. But these co-founders also recognize the fine line they must walk when it comes to satire.

"Writing satire in general can seem to be mocking somebody even if you're not intending to — you are trying to bring light to certain issues," Babba says. "Now, when you're writing satire for Muslims, it can also be a bigger issue because you're writing about issues that involve Islam. But you're not writing about the religion, you're writing about behavior. Sometimes it's hard for people to discern the difference between the criticism of behavior and the actual religion. That conflation, although it occurs with non-Muslims, it also occurs between Muslims so that's something that I think could be an issue."

According to Kamal, the group has long enjoyed the type of humor they look to convey through The Hummus because of their own background as the children of immigrant parents. Jiddo says that, in a sense, the co-founders are the core audience for The Hummus.

"First and foremost, our audience is English-speaking Muslims," he explains. "The reason it's English-speaking Muslims specifically is because they understand the idiosyncrasies that we discuss. But we've found that it's been pretty eclectic — not just Muslims understand it, but also non-Muslims across the world."

The Hummus aims to bring to light and make fun of the social issues faced by Muslim-Americans. When discussing the article "Muslim Daughter Feared Missing After Father Calls 38 Times Within 5 Minutes," for example, Babba says the article looks to point out the different treatment of young Muslim-American men and women. 

"[It's] about the difference in treatment between the girl that's missing after five minutes, supposedly, and the son who hasn't been seen in a week," Babba says. "A lot of Muslims, especially girl Muslims who are being raised here, who are Americans, can relate to that and they just don't understand it and we wanted to address that."

In addition to social issues, The Hummus is looking to take on the incredibly complex political issues facing the Muslim world with articles like "Op-Ed: Egypt’s New Constitution Is Best Work Of Local 4th Grader’s Writing Career." 

"With Muslims especially, we have a lot of interesting issues in politics," Babba says. "I think that article is just addressing the real life issues of what's going on in a country. Hopefully people understand that it is in good fun, but it should actually get them to think about why that's the title and whether or not they agree with some of the premises of the article."

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