CAIR-MI Celebrates 8th Annual Banquet

CAIR-MI celebrates Muslim, Media and the Message at 8th annual banquet

By Sadaf Ali, MMNS

Dearborn-April 5–Nearly one thousand people gathered at the Islamic Center of America for The Michigan Counsel of Islamic American Relations (CAIR) 8th annual banquet at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI.

CAIR-MI Executive Director, Dawud Walid gave an update on some of the organization’s major projects and accomplishments, including, sensitivity training for the Canton Police Department. Walid said that this ground-breaking training is much needed in the densely Muslim populated area of Canton and it will also be aired on Detroit’s PBS affiliate.

But the main attraction was this year’s topic “Muslims, Media and the Message” including keynote speaker Zarqa Nawaz, creator and co-writer of CBC TV’s “Little Mosque on the Prairie.”

Nawaz was born in Liverpool and raised in Toronto, where she received a Bachelor of Science from University of Toronto with the intention of going to medical school. Plans changed and Nawaz got another Bachelor’s in Journalism from Ryerson in 1992.

She began working as a freelance writer/broadcaster for CBC radio. Her radio documentary “The Changing Rituals of Death” won first prize at the Ontario Telefest Awards.

Nawaz decided to take a summer film workshop at the Ontario College for Art, where she made her film debut Toronto International Film Festival in 1996, “BBQ Muslims”.

“I never though I could write comedy,” she said.

Two years later Nawaz wrote “Death Threat”, another short film that was also debuted at the Film Fest and that’s when she knew her life had changed.

“That’s when I found my niche. I found out the community was hungry for films about Muslims in a comedic sense,” she said.

However, Nawaz’s shining moment came when she wrote the series, “Little Mosque on the Prairie.”

“CBC was having a difficult time competing with other networks who could air American Idol,” she said, “After the first episode aired, suddenly the entire world was paying attention to us. I was so proud to be a Muslim and a Canadian.”

According to Nawaz the series is appealing because it shows Muslims being normal. It humanizes Muslims.

“If we don’t control our image others will.”


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