Between gang and family
Queering ethnicity and British Muslim masculinities in Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil (2012)
in Queer Muslim diasporas in contemporary literature and film
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This chapter explores Sally El Hosaini's My Brother the Devil (2012), after a preliminary analysis of Muslim female homosexuality in her fictional short Henna Night (2009). The chapter suggests that, while focusing on the relationship between two British brothers of Egyptian heritage living in East London, El Hosaini’s narrative interrogates intersecting issues of ethnicity, religion, national identity, gender, and sexual orientation in a manner that disorganises Western expectations about British Muslim youth. The chapter illustrates how the older brother’s same-sex relationship with a French Arab challenges European ethnic absolutism. In the face of the central youth gang’s conjoining of masculinity, violence, and criminality, it is suggested Islam provides competing versions of Muslim masculinity that gradually relinquish violence and prize interpersonal empathy, while resisting Western views on Muslim women as invariably repressed and segregated. Finally, the film’s dealing with queerness, which rejects a Westernised ‘coming out’ narrative arc, is shown as challenging homonationalist models of sexuality prescribing cultural and sexual assimilation to the West’s constructed ‘Other’.

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