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Posted on Fri 28th Feb, 2014 in: Influence, Public Relations, Social Media by Emma Lister

This week's influencer award goes to Shazad Iqbal. Before this week, he was an ordinary man from Bradford, but now he has had a significant influence over Katy Perry's latest video. Perry herself is no stranger to influence, with her video for Roar receiving over 390 million views on YouTube, as well as reaching number 1 in music charts across the world. But on 20th February, Perry revealed her newest single, Dark Horse, to her 50 million Twitter followers and sparked an international uproar (excuse the pun) which resulted in calls for the video to be removed. The theme of the video is an Egyptian queen (Perry) who transforms potential suitors into sand. Shazad Iqbal started an online petition to have the video removed from YouTube, after spotting that one of her suitors is wearing a pendant stating the Arabic word for 'God' shortly before they are both disintegrated into sand (1.15mins in). Mr Iqbal argued that by using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful way the video is a 'portrayal of blasphemy.' As a result, he managed to get more than 65,000 people to sign the petition, agreeing that the clip was offensive. Not only has it been signed by people in the UK, the petition has received support from Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco, Lebanon and the US. Although Mr Iqbal claimed he didn't intend to cause controversy and that he just wanted the video removed, the story has had almost blanket media coverage, online and offline, with social media users sharing their opinions and supporting his cause. And, good news - the video has now been edited, with the pendant removed. Whilst Mr Iqbal did request that the video be taken down altogether, he will no doubt be pleased that he has had such an influence on Perry and her record label. It probably didn't occur to Ms Perry that the pendant being used in this way would cause such a frenzy, but I'm sure she will think twice before using religious expressions in her videos again!

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