Addressing The “911: Lone Star” Actor Ronen Rubinstein’s Hijab-Gate Situation

ronen rubinstein hijab
The apology Ronen Rubinstein wrote (Image: Twitter @RonenRubinstein)

Looks like the 911: Lone Star fandom wasn’t happy when an old video of actor Ronen Rubinstein recently surfaced. In the video, he’s shown making a joke about the hijab. Now, he has apologized for how he handled the situation, and hopefully the fandom can move on while hoping he will do better down the line.

I’m going to begin by saying that I wasn’t a fan of how 911: Lone Star treated Marjan and her hijab in a particular episode. Due to how hijabi women are usually depicted in media, I just knew the trope involving Marjan’s hijab coming off and someone recording a video or taking a picture of that moment was going to happen. And it sure did!

I could kind of understand what the show was going for with the hijab situation in the first season’s third episode. But, in my opinion, there was no need for it to happen in the first place. And if it indeed had to happen, a hijab-less Marjan could have been kept offscreen instead of making it a creepy male gaze moment playing into the desire certain men have about seeing hijabi women without their head covering.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the main writing team of 911: Lone Star has a Muslim writer on it. That’s why I think such an issue with Marjan’s character happened in the show’s narrative.

I’m not saying that non-Mulsim people can’t write interesting Muslim characters. However, it’s always better to have someone in the writing or consulting team from the community a piece of media is supposed to represent.

There was also an issue with how the show depicted Marjan while praying… which, oohhhh, that’s a whole other topic I don’t want to touch in this article.

Like, seriously, 911: Lone Star writers, I’m a fan of the show and I’m open to helping you all polish up the Muslim representation on the show. Or at least, add some Muslim people as consultants. I want you all to succeed.

911 lone star Marjan praying
Image via Twitter – Ambreen Dadabhoy

You can look at how Marvel handles Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) and her Muslim friend Nakia as an example. Due to the creative team including Muslim women, Kamala Khan is an incredibly well-written fictional young Muslim woman.

Kamala doesn’t wear a hijab and that’s okay. Her friend Nakia wears it, and that’s okay, too. The impressive thing is that Nakia, as of yet, hasn’t gone through a single moment where her hijab came off while helping Ms. Marvel (in dangerous situations) and the narrative turning it into a whole thing.

The Ms. Marvel comic books are a good example of how a hijabi Muslim woman can be written in a manner where she is more than just her choice to wear a hijab.

ms marvel nakia hijab
Nakia and Zoe from Ms. Marvel (Image: Marvel Comics)

Another example is the character of Sana Bakkoush from the TV series Skam. You should know that the actress Iman Meskini wears a hijab in real life and that trickled into the fictional character of Sana. So, yes, Skam didn’t include a single trope of Sana’s hijab coming off either.

It can do done, people! It can be done!

Of course, there’s an issue with how Elite has handled the hijab-wearing character named Nadia. But, then again, Elite is trash (that I enjoy consuming without any regret) and that’s why it gets a pass from me because it’s not claiming to necessarily represent anyone. The show knows it’s a mess and will continue to be a mess.

However, 911: Lone Star is about showcasing a positive representation of minorities (PoC, Muslims, LGBTQ+, and more). So, it’s understandable that people in the fandom didn’t like the joke Ronen Rubinstein made about the hijab in that particular video. They thought he would have known better to make fun of such a topic considering the show’s he’s a part of. 

What’s worse is that when the fandom asked him about it, Ronen Rubinstein decided to (apparently) hide those messages and block people. Perhaps he panicked? But, we can all see it sure wasn’t a good move to ignore such concerns, especially when the 911: Lone Star fandom includes Muslim viewers.

Ronen Rubinstein hijab joke
Image: Twitter

Islamophobia, especially hijabophobia (that targets Muslim women) is still a thing around the globe. So, what Rubinstein did was unliked by many. However, when it comes to such sensitive issues, it’s always best to look at the context and keep an open mind.

We should remember that people who aren’t part of certain communities aren’t always aware of the discrimination said communities have to deal with on a daily basis. And that’s where ‘intent’ comes in. There’s a difference between deliberately being homophobic, racist, Islamophobia, etc. toward someone and making a not-so-funny joke because a person didn’t know any better.

I showed Rubinstein’s video to the hijab-wearing women in my family and they shared a similar opinion. They didn’t like seeing him (a non-Muslim guy) make such a joke (I mean, who would, right?), but they also didn’t feel any malice coming from him.

Of course, not every Mulsim woman is the same. So, if you feel differently, that’s completely valid, too.

Rubinstein’s current situation reminds me of Dominic Sherwood and his use of a homophobic slur without realizing that the public had heard him. Sherwood apologized and hasn’t repeated using such slurs (that the public knows of). That’s also one of the reasons why I’m okay with watching Sherwood play a queer character in the current Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series

If someone doesn’t have a pattern of so-called hurtful mistakes and they don’t repeat said actions after apologizing for their past, I think it’s best to accept the apology and allow the other person to grow for the better.

So, as far as I’m concerned, while blocking certain fans who brought up the issue wasn’t the best move, the fact that Ronen Rubinstein finally apologized for the video should count for something.

Now, if he displays a problematic pattern… well, then I’m definitely going to have an actual problem with him.

Before I close this article, I’m going to address certain fans of Rubinstein. Y’all, seeing you accept an apology that isn’t meant for you make you look like… well, clowns (for the lack of a better word). Yes, you like Rubinstein and you aren’t comfortable with seeing him being called out like that, but trying to defend Rubinstein by telling people who were displeased by his video to ‘grow up’ and to ‘learn how to take a joke’ isn’t it.

There’s no need to downplay concerns of Muslims to prop up your fave. It’s just not a good look. It’s kind of similar to how white people are ready to accept a white celebrity’s apology meant for PoC. Or when straight fans are ready to accept an apology meant for the queer community.

All you fans need to chill a bit. 

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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