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Cancel Adam Saleh Over Rape Allegations, Not Consensual Sex

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Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault.

The past few years has seen the rise and fall of many YouTube stars including Jeffree Star, David Dobrik, James Charles, and James Paul. The one thing these stars have in common? All of them have faced allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct throughout their careers. They all responded to the allegations by denying them, gaslighting the victims or blaming others. While they tried to salvage their reputations with half-assed apology videos the damage was already done. From brands dropping them to YouTube demonetizing their channels, one thing was clear: No matter how powerful, famous, or influential these stars are, they cannot escape the consequences of their actions.

YouTube star Adam Saleh rose to fame in 2014 with his satirical and comedic skits involving his friends and family, aimed primarily at Muslim audiences. Like any YouTube star, Adam has had his fair share of controversies. Each time, the Muslim community stepped up to check Adam’s behavior and weed out the lies from the truth. The Muslim community called Adam out for staging a fake racial profiling experiment, and bending the truth about being kicked off a Delta airline’s flight for speaking Arabic.

Four months ago, a woman came forward with rape allegations against Adam Saleh. The response from the Muslim community towards Adam was virtual crickets. On the other hand, the response to the survivor’s story was loud and clear. Some pushed the theory that Naz Izi, Adam Saleh’s former manager, had created this story with the survivor to hurt Adam’s career. Others support Adam and engaged in victim blaming against the survivor, arguing she could have avoided the situation. The backlash and criticism Adam has received on other controversies has been non-existent for the rape allegations he is facing.

Instead of addressing the rape allegations and acknowledging the survivor’s story, we have resorted to victim blaming and conspiracy theories. The sad irony is the survivor herself acknowledged she was prepared to receive hate and backlash because Adam is such an influential figure. Although she does not have the same support system Adam does, she choose to speak out because she does not want other girls to end up in her shoes.

Now compare this to Agoura Hill revealing her story about how she had consensual sex with Adam Saleh and Slim Albaher. Within a month, her story has garnered a significantly larger reaction from the Muslim community. The majority of opinions were transphobic, hateful comments directed towards Agoura. By attacking Agoura’s identity, we continue to protect abusive and hypocritical Muslim figures like Adam. We must recognize that Adam is an adult who makes conscious decisions and choices in his life. Then we need to hold him accountable when he tries to escape fallout from his fans by using a scapegoat.

Any time there are allegations of misconduct by a woman directed towards a man in a position of power, society’s default is victim blaming.

Any time there are allegations of misconduct by a woman directed towards a man in a position of power, society’s default is victim blaming. We resort to holding the victim either partially or entirely at fault for the actions of the offender. In the case of rape, victim blaming places the responsibility of rape on the victim herself instead of her rapist. Our society has deceived itself into thinking they have given women all the tools to avoid being raped.

We arm ourselves with pepper spray, knives, and tasers to fend off potential attackers. As women, we avoid going out at night, often traveling in groups and texting our friends to make sure we got home safe. We avoid wearing short, tight, or skimpy clothing and watch the way we speak to men so we don’t make men angry or “lead a man on.” When a woman is raped, she is met with responses like “She was asking for it” or she “should have known better.” This further alienates the victim, and may even stop her her from coming forward.

It takes an immense amount of courage for survivors to speak up. They are not just telling a story; they are reliving every moment of the worst part of their lives.

Let me be clear: rape is an act of violence committed through force and intimidation against the victim’s will. A victim’s clothing, age, location, or decisions are not the reason why they were raped. The rapist makes the decision to take advantage of someone in their most vulnerable state. Rape is a traumatizing experience that haunts a survivor for the rest of their life. You do not need to see the physical scars of assault to understand that they are there. Survivors carry the weight of their assault afterwards for years. It takes an immense amount of courage for survivors to speak up. They are not just telling a story; they are reliving every moment of the worst part of their lives. What survivors need most is empathy and understanding; a chance to have their story both heard and validated.

In an era of #MeToo, it is more crucial now than ever that the Muslim community address the rape allegations against Adam, and give the survivor the support she needs. Silence is complicity, and that is not an option for us. When we fail to call out Adam’s problematic behavior and force him to take responsibility for his actions, we enable him to continue using his platform to abuse and manipulate women. We must hold Adam accountable for his actions just as we held other YouTuber’s accountable. It is time to for Adam to face the consequences of his actions.

A note about consent: Please note that while Agoura, Adam, and Slim allegedly consented to sexual acts, it is not clear if both sides consented to the act being recorded. Consent to a sexual act is entirely separate from consent to recording the act. As soon as one party is no longer comfortable, concerned, or wants to stop, their consent is withdrawn.

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