Little Mosque on the Prairie: Not liberal enough for Tarek Fatah

Muslim opinion, as far as one can discern it from reading a few of the blogs, seems largely lukewarm as far as the CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie is concerned. One of the reasons seems to be, among other things, it’s portrayal of the more religiously conservative characters on the show.

It was therefore somewhat amusing to read, via ‘Aqoul, that the ridiculous Tarek Fatah (of Say No to the Burqa fame) has charged the program with being racist and bigoted. But not for the reasons one might think. Fatah and Farzana “A Progressive Voice in Canadian Islam” Hassan wrote an opinion piece for the Toronto Sun which reads, in part:

To begin with, a completely false picture of the Muslim community has been forced into the homes of non-Muslim Canadians. CBC has validated the image painted by Islamist groups that Muslim lives revolve around mosques — nothing else. We don’t play hockey, none of us have 9-to-5 day jobs, love affairs, play poker or, dare we say, cheat on our taxes or our spouses.

After watching the fourth episode of Little Mosque, we question the motives of the writer, producers, and directors of the show for focusing singularly on the most conservative segments of the Muslim community. Although the characters are meant to reflect the diversity of Muslim society, a closer examination reveals the show is not about liberal or progressive Muslims competing with conservatives. Rather, the writer has created a false dichotomy of “conservative” Muslims vs. “ultra-conservative” Muslims; the former being disingenuously passed on as feminist and progressive. Muslims who do not pay homage to their Imams; the liberal, secular or progressive segments of the community, are conspicuous by their complete absence from the Little Mosque narrative.

Yes, that’s right. By not depicting Muslims as a bunch of progressive poker-playing, adulterous, 9-to-5′ers handy with hockey sticks, CBC has engaged in an orchestrated conspiracy to:

….exaggerate the incidence of racism and bigotry against Muslims in Canada to foster the culture of victim-hood and accentuate the chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada.

I might not find Little Mosque on the Prairie particularly funny but this stuff is hilarious.


#1 buryali on 02.25.07 at 8:22 pm

I do not understand him. If he wants all that its on TV 24/7

#2 Shadower on 02.25.07 at 8:44 pm

What he wants is “Little Mosque on the OC”

#3 Amir on 02.25.07 at 11:56 pm

He also doesn’t seem to realise that the reason the program is funny is because it features identifiable Muslims who are discernibly different from the non-Muslims in the town. The situational comedy is mostly because of these differences. If you remove that distinction, then the program loses all its appeal and becomes just another bland suburban sitcom.

#4 E. Mariyani on 02.26.07 at 10:30 am

If you remove that distinction, then the program loses all its appeal and becomes just another bland suburban sitcom.

I think that is basically Fatah’s point. He seems to be suggesting that the show is stereotypical precisely because it does not accurately represent the blandness, the utter ordinariness, the dull, daily grind of everyday life which is common to all humanity.

Perhaps there are nitwits out there (in fact, I’m sure there are) who don’t realise there are striking similarities between the ordinariness of Muslim and non-Muslim lives (eating, sleeping, working, raising kids, fixing the leaky taps, hoping for a better future, etc.), and that if they did know this, then maybe they wouldn’t be so hostile; but frankly, I don’t think people of that persuasion would be watching LMOTP anyway (self-selection bias).

So, aside from the fact that no person in their right mind would want to see yet another suburban sitcom that is about Muslims but studiously ignores any reference to Muslims (bizarre in itself), it wouldn’t achieve Fatah’s desired educative goals anyway. Bah.

#5 Baybers on 02.26.07 at 3:28 pm

There are several layers of irony here

1. A self proclaimed “Liberal” speaks with an authoritarian flavour when, in a free society someone creates something that he disapproves of.

2. Tarek (an interesting anglicised mangling of his name Tariq) feels that he has authority to be the interpreter of Muslim culture to wider Canada, even though he is a fringe person without a constituency. The producers of this program therefore incur his disapproval because they have bypassed him.

3. Normality in tarek’s eyes is dysfunction to most people i.e. someone who cheats on their spouse, on their taxes and and gambles. If that is his idea of the hallmarks of “normality”, it says much more about him then anything else.

#6 Irfan Yusuf on 02.26.07 at 11:14 pm

Tarek Fattah is one of the more humorous ‘progressive’ voices. Here’s some more of what I think of him …

#7 sindbad on 03.04.07 at 1:37 pm

Tarek Fatah says: “…….exaggerate the incidence of racism and bigotry against Muslims in Canada to foster the culture of victim-hood and accentuate the chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada.”

Of course when Mr Fatah is grooving in the clubs and writing his stuff in right-wing papers and wiggling his toes in his Turkish bath, how will he know what goes on with ordinary Muslims in Canada? And neither will the makers of this show. At the end it all boils down to the racism infesting Canadian mainstream newspapers as pointed out by Robert Fisk, like the phrase “brown-skinned Muslims”.

#8 ExEx Blogger on 03.18.07 at 4:01 pm

I think this person who doesn’t like shariah courts, burqas, islamic values should be asked: What version of Islam does he follow?!

#9 Baybers on 03.18.07 at 5:36 pm

Tarek Fateh is a Muslim only to the extent that it allows him licence to attack Muslims and is therefore newsworthy (i.e. brave Muslim reformer speaks out against fundamentalist thugs, needs our support and a book tour).

I had to delete the last comment as it would cause offence to our porcine readership.

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