‘Little Mosque’ Defuses Hate with Humor


Carlo and Sitara Hewitt in the CBC comedy

Washington, DC: A new Canadian TV comedy, taking a light look at Muslims and finding humor in their interaction with the larger community, may turn out to be a surprise hit, as its first episode pulled in a record number of viewers.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) show - Little Mosque on the Prairie - tells the story of small group of Muslims that moves to a prairie town in Saskatchewan, where one of the first things it does is to try to build a mosque in the parish hall of a church, which leads to some extremely funny situations when the local community tries to resist.
A passer-by, who finds the group praying, phones a “terrorist hot line” to report that Muslims are praying “just like on CNN”. The band of fresh arrivals decides to hire a Canadian-born imam from Toronto who quits his father’s law firm to take the job. His father thinks it is a “career suicide”. En route, he is detained at the airport after he is overheard telling someone on his cell phone, “If Dad thinks that’s suicide, so be it,” adding, “This is Allah’s plan for me.”
Later, a leader of the Muslim group tells a local that the decision to turn the parish hall into a mosque is a “pilot project”. “You’re training pilots?” he screams. Reviewing the first episode in the Globe and Mail, columnist Margaret Wente wrote of the actor cast as the Toronto-imported imam, “If there’s an imam on Earth who resembles this one, I will convert to Islam, don the veil and catch the next plane to Mecca.” The imam is shown as clean shaven and wearing blue jeans.
The show has been created by a Pakistani-American woman, Zarqa Nawaz, who says that while she is not trying to bridge all of the cultural gaps, she hopes the program will make all sides laugh and thus create a better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. She says she wants the broader society to look at Muslims as normal people, no different from others who are not Muslim.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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