CBC's Little Mosque to break new ground
n a show that will be the first of its kind on North American TV, CBC plans to begin a new comedy series about a small community of Muslims living in rural Saskatchewan.Yasir (Carlo Rota, left) and Baber (Manoj Sood, right) discuss the beginning of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
Little Mosque on the Prairie doesn't come to air until Jan. 9, but already it has attracted attention from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and satirical talk-show host Stephen Colbert.
The show's creator, Zarqa Nawaz, says she hopes the cheeky send-up of stereotypes and the clash of cultures will show Muslims in a new light.
"That Muslims can be funny and are just like everyone else," she said in an interview with CBC Television.Little Mosque on the Prairie creator and producer Zarqa Nawaz.
A Regina-based mother of four, Nawaz says she hopes her children will see the new face of Canada in the show.
"I'd like them to be able to watch TV and see people who also look like them. So they can also connect that way," she said.
Shot in Toronto in 2006, the show focuses on a Muslim community in the fictional Prairie town of Mercy, following family conflicts and the community's interaction with their neighbours.
"It's based on my own observations growing up as Muslim in North America," she said.
Toronto-born actor Zaib Shaikh plays a young lawyer turned religious leader in the series.
The show isn't meant to be political, he said, and doesn't deal with political themes.
"It's a show that's meant to be funny, that shows an aspect of Canadian culture that just happens to be Muslim."
In one episode, a father fights with his adolescent daughter over what she can wear to school. In another, a battle of sexes erupts when a spiritual leader wants to put a divider between men and women in the mosque.
The show is a half-hour sitcom with humour arising out of the situations, Nawaz said, adding that her main goal is to get people laughing.
"Muslims have reacted very favourably to the show, because they want to see themselves on screen as real people," she said.
Nawaz was born in England, grew up in Toronto and moved to Saskatchewan 10 years ago. Her BBQ Muslims was a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1996.
Actor Carlo Rota, who has a part in this show, as well as the hit U.S. series 24, says he thinks Little Mosque on the Prairie could only be made in Canada.
"I get heavy guys, bad guys, guys that garrotte, guys that strafe with machine guns," he says of his usual roles for TV.
American TV is too timid to make a show with such a fresh perspective, he said.
The show premieres next Tuesday and then will air on Monday nights and be repeated on Wednesday nights.
09 January 2007
TONIGHT: Little Mosque on the Prarie
Don't miss "Little Mosque on the Prarie," tonight on CBC at 8:30pm. If you are a Comcast subscriber in Detroit, it's channel 99, and I think it's channel 9 if you don't have cable. It airs again tomorow (Wednesday) at 8pm.