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Pak Tea House » Identity » What do you Think of Muslims? Challenging Perceptions.

What do you Think of Muslims? Challenging Perceptions.

How the son of Pakistani parents is fighting to dispel stereotypes and ‘teach tolerance and integration’ in the UK.
In the current climate, the image of Muslims as extremists and zealots stands tall in the public conscience. The unblinking spotlight on the supposed ills of the Islamic world fills the mind with shadowy pictures of militancy and terrorism. But a new initiative in the UK seeks to dispel the darkness and return the image of Muslims back into the light.
Media Cultured, a community interest company based in Teeside, England, aims to challenge stereotypes and foster “community cohesion and harmony” through the use of social media and film. The organization was founded by its fresh-faced director, Amjid Khazir, a British born Muslim who used to work in PR and internet marketing. Though his parents originally hail from Nakodar, a small village in Jhelum, Khazir firmly sees himself as part of the fabric of British society – a society he wishes to bring together.
“The origins of the company were built upon my research, career and work in PR and as an SEO,” says Khazir, “My voluntary work with local masjids and national faith groups coupled with my research into the ‘pathways’ to extremism also brought me to this point. This work and the experiences I have had were the bedrock of the initial epiphany of how media and film especially could be the key to promoting lateral thinking and common values without seemingly propagating a particular faith or ideology.”

A family tragedy also played a significant role in focusing Khazir fully on the task at hand. In 2011, his uncle, Muhammad Zabir, died six weeks after being attacked by a drunken passenger in his taxi the night before an English Defence League (EDL) march in Darlington. Whether the assault was racially motivated was never substantiated, but it provided that extra spark of motivation for Khazir to “succeed with his work.”

Khazir says: “Regardless of the causes of the attack and the reasons behind my uncle Zabir’s passing he was an upstanding and completely honourable man. I prayed that we can pay homage to his life and complete our duties to our fellow man.”
Media Cultured was set up in conjunction with Teeside University’s DigitalCity project who provided Khazir with a fellowship to produce films and other material. One of the most crucial challenges for the organization is making use of social media. At a time when Islamic extremists are turning more and more to formats like Facebook and Twitter to radicalize Muslim youth and the anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims is being stridently promoted by radicals at the other end of the scale, the need for a more tolerant voice is greater than ever. “Extremists of all persuasions seemed to be utilizing this medium to great effect and so we are providing the ‘other’ voice.”
Their current project is a teaser for a short educational film, Combinations, made in partnership with Thousand Yard Film. It follows, Imran Naeem, a heavily bearded community worker and boxing trainer who took part in the Olympic torch relay last summer. The trailer opens with the camera focused on a stern faced Naeem and the Adhan sounding in the background seconds before he breaks into a cackle of laughter and challenges the viewer’s prejudices. What comes next is mobile phone conversations about what to buy from supermarket chain Tesco’s and scenes of a charismatic, articulate and fully integrated Muslim carrying on with everyday life. Perhaps the most poignant and revealing moment is with a smiling Naeem talking about the realization of his Britishness and the sense of pride he takes from it. He is in every sense a very real role model. Over the next several months, the film will be shown in schools and various other institutions to challenge prevailing misconceptions.
Up next is another film, Head for Cover, a narrative of the history of the hijab – an item of clothing which dates back to biblical times. With the number of hate crimes against Muslim women in the UK on the increase it is hoped that the film will help dispel many of the myths that surround Islamic dress. It also touches on the rights of women in Islam.
Issues pertaining to Muslims are not the only focus of Media Cultured. They are currently in talks with governing football bodies and anti-racism groups about making films which tackle the issue of racism on the terraces and society as a whole.
Alongside the media work, Khazir has also created specialist lesson plans and hosts workshops in schools, colleges, mosques and universities to encourage unity across social groups. Khazir says, “By educating people about these matters we simply explore and disseminate the nuisances that create and cause suspicion based upon race or creed.”

The work the organization is doing seems to be garnering positive attention. After just six months of operations the company has not only been recognized as a viable business in straitened economic times, but has won approval as a ‘fantastic’ social enterprise. Only a matter of days ago they were awarded a funding grant from UnLtd, the UK’s leading financial support group for social enterprises which they will receive at an awards ceremony at the end of this month. The message is getting across, and for Khazir that is the most important prize of all.

For more information and to view the trailer visit mediacultured.org.
The writer can be reached on his twitter account – @usman_ahmad82.




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12 Responses to "What do you Think of Muslims? Challenging Perceptions."

  1. ruSh.Me India Google Chrome Mac OS says:

    How about inculcating some tolerance amongst your own community? Let’s start the charity at home, no?

  2. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    The golden rule is to integrate into the cultures of the majority people one migrates to!! All the rest is a diversion and a challenge to the natives of the land and are potential objects of discrimination and violence.

    The jews did not eat pork in Europe and one day became the target of discrimination in the christian majority European lands. If the immigrant communities in the UK want to keep their original identity and are creating Ghettos, then they must make sure tha their Ghettos are self sufficient to survive.

    Rex Minor

  3. Respect Me United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    Respect me. I am the best. You are not. I am going to heaven. You are not. See I am normal. Ignore what other Muslims say. Listen to me. Learn about me. I have a lesson prepared for you.

    This concludes the first lesson.

    Repeat it five times a day.

    Your ghardamaad. Keep yourselves away from my own ghar.

  4. akb Pakistan Safari Unknow Os says:

    I hope khazir etc are not trying to promote Mirjaism under the cover of Islam??

    Both culture n society are different things, religion is much apart. Even in India Siks, Muslims, xtians, Hindus live together yet live differently ….eat n drink different foods, wear diff. Clothes, seldom intermarry , etc….same situation exists in the west.,,eg China towns can be seen in various countries…Jewish live n do biz in separate areas even in NY, etc …
    Missionary ploys of khazir etc r undesirable

  5. Mirza Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    The comment section on this website has been hijacked by a bunch of morons.

    akb – what does your comment even mean?????????

    Anyway – a visit to the Media Cultured website is a must so you can see the trailer for Combinations and all the other good work the organisation is doing.

  6. Ibrahim Ireland Safari iPhone says:

    akb ?????

    Excellent article. Demonstrating that all Muslims born in UK or anywhere
    In Europe need to intergrate and be proud to be British , Irish, or European the
    EDL are just a bunch of Anglo saxions. The point is simple , tolerance
    , peace & acceptance that there are British Muslims ( men and women)

    Peace

  7. kevin barret United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Everyone knows that AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is the most powerful lobby in Washington.

    But starting next September 11th, a new group called AMPAC, the American Muslim Political Action Committee, will challenge AIPAC’s stranglehold on American political life.

    AMPAC will be forcefully announcing its presence with a “Million Muslim March” on the White House on September 11, 2013. The goal, announced at AMPAC’s press conference in New York:

    “We at AMPAC (American Muslim Political Action Committee) are planning a historic event for 9/11/13. One million Muslims will march to Washington D.C. and demand that our civil rights be protected by our government. We are demanding that laws be enacted protecting our First Amendment rights. We are asking President Obama to fulfill his promise from his first campaign for the Presidency of a transparent government. Lastly we are asking for the establishment of a real 9/11 Commission to reveal the truth to the American people.”

    AMPAC founder M.D. Rabbi Alam, a well-known Missouri Democratic Party organizer, points out that
    American Muslims, like other Americans, were targeted on 9/11. More than 60 Muslims were murdered in the explosive demolitions of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11, and a mosque in the South Tower was annihilated. Alam points out that “Muslim and non-Muslim alike were traumatized by 9/11, but we as Muslims continue twelve years later to be victimized by being made the villains.”

    American courts have traditionally held that the Bill of Rights guarantees that all religions must be treated equally by the government. Alam cites “the ‘war on terrorism’ in Islamic countries, Congressional hearings on Islam in America, and changes to the NDAA” as infringements of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

    AMPAC organizers also argue that the US government and media have lied about 9/11 and its aftermath. According to the AMPAC press release, “These lies told to the American population have made it impossible for us to do true Dawa (Islamic outreach).”

    The attack on American Muslims’ free speech actually appears to have begun a few days before 9/11, when the FBI raided key Muslim organizations and shut down their computer servers. The FBI’s raids preemptively prevented Muslims from freely expressing and disseminating their view of 9/11: That it was an inside job, presumably orchestrated by Israel and its American agents.

    Polls show that more than 80% of Muslims globally, and two-thirds of American Muslims, believe that 9/11 was an inside job – and these polls undoubtedly understate the real numbers. Yet the corporate media, dominated by Jewish Zionists, has refused to allow Muslims’ perspective on 9/11 to even be heard, much less debated. To this day, most Americans falsely believe that Muslims accept the official story of 9/11.

    9/11 was used to shut down the free speech rights of Muslim Americans – and not just about 9/11. Sami al-Arian, America’s leading Muslim political organizer, was harassed and imprisoned after 9/11 for the crime of publicly stating his strong opposition to the apartheid state of Israel. At his trial, jurors were swayed by graphic footage of Israelis maimed by suicide bombers. The prosecution implied that al-Arian was responsible for these acts of violence simply because he was Palestinian, Muslim, and opposed to Israeli apartheid.

    Another American Muslim leader, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah of Detroit, Michigan, was murdered by the FBI in 2009 in reprisal for his statements criticizing US imperialism and injustice. His body was riddled with 19 bullet holes in an FBI raid reminiscent of the FBI murders of Fred Hampton and other Black Panthers in the 1960s.

    Imam Abdullah is not the only American Muslim killed by US authorities for his political views. Among the better-known cases is that of scholar Anwar al-Awlaki, who, along with his son and grandson, were murdered by cowardly drone strikes in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was imprisoned, tortured, mischaracterized as a “terrorist,” and finally murdered by US authorities due to his outspoken opposition to the 9/11-triggered war on Islam.

    Another influential, politically-engaged American Muslim, the scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, was kidnapped, raped and tortured by US authorities who disapproved of her political views. Like so many other American Muslim leaders, she was tried in a kangaroo court on ridiculous trumped-up charges in order to silence her eloquent voice.

    The FBI and other secret police agencies, along with Israeli Mossad spin-offs such as the ADL, have used both federal agents and hired criminals to infiltrate, surveil, and terrorize mosques since 9/11, chilling Muslims’ rights of free speech and free association. A key FBI goal has been to entrap young, naive Muslims into appearing complicit in FBI-concocted “terror plots.”

    As of 2006, the US had already kidnapped and tortured more than 80,000 Muslims worldwide, according to the UK Guardian. Today, that number has undoubtedly grown into the hundreds of thousands. Virtually all are innocent of any acts of violence. Many have been targeted because they are the most charismatic and outspoken leaders, or the best organizers, in the Muslim community.

    Faced with a reality reminiscent of the Jews’ situation in 1930s Nazi Germany, most American Muslims have been terrorized into silence. But today, more than a decade after 9/11, more and more are finding the courage to speak out.

    Last year, AMPAC founder MD Rabbi Alam was targeted by the Zionist-dominated media for raising questions about Israel’s role in 9/11. Alam refused to be intimidated. Instead, he responded by founding AMPAC and launching plans for next year’s 9/11/2013 Million Muslim March on the White House.

    Will AMPAC one day dislodge AIPAC from its throne? Only time will tell.

    Meanwhile, stay tuned to http://ampacus.webs.com/ for updates on next September’s Million Muslim March.

  8. tams Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    Oi Mods! the essays by Kevin Barret has nothing to do with the article – entirely of the innapropriate – needs deleting – obvious troll.

  9. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Ibrahim,

    People with the background of immigration need not give lessons to Europeans on ‘Motherhood’ or of bibical times. The European civilisatios have lived it and have no tolerence to go back to the times of their great grand mothers. There is no such thing as Islamic dress for modern public consumption; one dresses in Rome as the Romans do and in Afghanistan as the Afghans do, let this be the first task for the Khizr org. to folow. The course that the jewish people in Europe have followed in Europe to survive and progress against the christians resistance is no longer a secret and is worth copyig.

    Go into the professions of teaching in schools and universities, foreign office domain, politics and last but not least in the entrepreneurial enterprise. This is the direct way to rule the world be it in East or West.

    Have a nice day. Anyone who does not speak or understand arabic language should not take the lead and represent muslim communities.

    Rex Minor

  10. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Kevin Barret comments are worth noting; though the yanks are following the strategy which the christian church followed against jews, blaming them for the crucifiction of christ. They hold a bias against the American muslims for sept 11 episode. The incidence was a conpiracy but several culprits have been deliberately named by the administration.

    Rex Minor

  11. beacon India Internet Explorer Windows says:

    What we think of muslims?

    Zombies, morons, mental slaves, arrogant, conceited, misusing the word “god”, writing and teaching islam-glorifying deceitful versions of history to muslim children and youth, bootlickers of arabs, stealers, machos, cowards who dare not question their own lies, and like that more.

  12. Hi! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great information you hav got right here on this post.

    I’ll be returning to your site for more soon.

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