Waleed Wain is video satirist who uses the name Veedu Vidz. He makes videos poking fun at British Islamic life, Islamic extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry through comedy. He lives in the UK in London with his family.
He graciously agreed to speak with Clarion Project Dialogue Coordinator Elliot Friedland about his work.
Clarion: How did you get involved in making comedy videos?
Wain: After graduating from university I was in between jobs and had an itch to make a YouTube channel about what interests me, religion, politics and debate. After much trial and error, I wrote a simple script called “5 easy steps: how to become a Sheikh”, which I still consider to be one of my best videos.
I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t entirely sure if people would understand my sense of humor, or appreciate what I was trying to achieve.
But the positive feedback far exceeded my expectations and gave me the confidence to make more videos and to become more creative with my ideas.
Clarion Project: What do you hope to achieve with your videos?
Waleed Wain: My aims are twofold; to entertain people and make them laugh, and secondly to use comedy and satire as a tool for critical thinking and open discussion.
Clarion: Your videos mock Islamic religious leaders and certain practices. Are you anti-Islam?
Wain: I am not anti-Islam or anti-Muslim, but pro free speech, pro critical and rational thinking. It is not my aim to take down Islam or drag it through the mud, but to shine on it the light of free thought, natural curiosity and good honest humour. I imitate and mock certain religious leaders not because I hate them or hold any personal grudges against them, but to expose the silly and facile nature of their arguments.
Clarion: Your YouTube channel strapline is “Beating Bigotry with a smile.” What do you mean by that?
Wain: To me, beating bigotry with a smile is to enjoy challenging beliefs and questioning the status quo. It is to relish the opportunity to learn something new from your opponent and change people’s perspective, by making them feel part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Clarion: What kind of responses do you get for your satire?
Wain: I have received an overwhelmingly positive response for my videos. People from all walks of life watch my content and commend me on my work which is great to see.
Many people have told me that my content is not only funny but very important in changing people’s view on Islam and Muslims.
We should not be afraid of critiquing our own tradition and having fun at the same time.
Clarion: What’s your most successful video been and why do you think it was so successful?
Wain: By far my most successful video is “Dr Zakir Naik: Are Nursery Rhymes Halal?” it has over a 100,000 views.
The video was successful because people enjoyed the physical imitation of Dr Zakir Naik who is an internationally recognized Muslim speaker with a very unique way of speaking, and because it showed how his literalist interpretation of Islam produces inane answers to seemingly simple questions.