'Little Mosque on the Prairie' marks TV first

Canada's public broadcaster will air the first episode Tuesday night of its much-anticipated "Little Mosque on the Prairie" about Muslims nestled among a multitude of Christians in the country's vast western plains.

'Little Mosque on the Prairie' marks TV first

The CBC series has been saluted for its originality and has attracted significant interest for its unabashedly comedic look at relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in a country with a reputation for tolerance.

The television show parodies the acclaimed US drama "Little House on the Prairie" (1974-83), which starred Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, about the life and adventures of the Ingalls family in the nineteenth-century American West.

But instead of raising pitchforks, tumbling down hills, and selling eggs at the general store, this Muslim family struggles to mesh in fictional Mercy, Saskatchewan, in a post-September 11, 2001 world.

The show mocks Muslim townsfolks' efforts to establish a mosque in a mostly Protestant whistle stop, and pokes fun at their relations with suspicious neighbors.

"It's a sitcom and not a political satire," said Zarqa Nawaz, the show's creator. But the Liverpool-born filmmaker, practicing Muslim, and mother-of-four also hopes that the show will help dispel stereotypes and prejudices about her religion that festered after the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

"Since 9/11, what we see on the news nearly every day portrays Muslims in terms of conflict. It tends to create a one-dimensional perception of a very diverse community," she said.

The series tackles these issues head-on.

In one scene, a young Muslim man is arrested at an airport check-in after he is overheard arguing with his mother about abandoning his law career to become an imam. "If dad thinks it's suicide, so be it. This is Allah's plan for me," he said.

In another, a Muslim father laments that his scantily-clad daughter "looks like a Protestant." When she tries to correct him by suggesting that he meant prostitute, he repeats: "No, I meant Protestant."

"Laughter is a sort of universal language ... I'm using comedy to help us see each other in a different light and poke fun at the stereotypes both communities [Muslims and non-Muslims] have about each other," Nawaz said in an interview Tuesday on CBC.

Nawaz's previous short films included BBQ Muslims about two brothers who are suspected of being terrorists after their barbecue explodes, and Real Terrorists Don't Belly Dance.

"Little Mosque on the Prairie" is based on her own experiences as a Muslim growing up in Toronto and now living in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan province, she said.

The Globe and Mail newspaper praised the show's pilot episode as the best that the CBC has produced in years.

The paper called it "a grand-slam assertion that Canadian television is different and that the best of Canadian television amounts to a rejection of the hegemony of US network television."

CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said in October that the broadcaster hoped to lighten religious tensions with the sitcom after the Roman Catholic pope Benedict XVI's remarks that seemed to bash Islam, after an alleged Toronto terror plot was foiled in June, and after several attacks on Canadian mosques in 2005-2006.

"The producers recognize that this is a potentially sensitive topic," Keay said. "But the show is a comedy. We hope people will laugh."



Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16