Nadiya Hussain, the Muslim winner of the latest season ofThe Great British Bake Off, has seemingly united an often religiously divided Britain with her obvious talent, which judge Mary Berry called “sheer perfection.”
Hussain, a cheerful woman just under five feet tall, stood out all season in her demure hijab. But rather than stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment — like Prime Minister David Cameron, who vowed earlier this year to fight Islamist extremism, but failed to reach out to the moderate Muslims whose support matters most — Hussain herself seems to have struck a chord in fans of GBBO, which is perhaps the most wholesome and “quintessentially British” program on television, in the words of The Guardian.
Hussain’s supporters have created a Tumblr called The Many Faces of Nadiya Appreciation, and her dedicated fans call themselves “Nadiyators.” Although she has previously admitted that she wondered whether “people would look at me, a Muslim in a headscarf, and wonder if I could bake,” Nadiya’s charm has taken on a life of its own, drawing support even from Cameron.
According to The Guardian, the result is that Hussain seems to have established a broader and more inclusive definition of “Britishness” — defined not by homogeneity, but diversity.
“Growing up, I didn’t see that many Muslims on TV and we don’t see many now,” Hussain told the Guardian. “But essentially I am a mother and that’s the job I know best. For me, it’s important to instill in my children that they can do whatever they like, that no matter what their religion and color, they can achieve what they want through hard work. And it’s nice to be able to do the same for a wider audience. If I have – amazing.”