For those who haven’t heard about this tempest in a sitcom, the show is about a group of Muslims in small-town Saskatchewan and the reaction of the locals when they start up a mosque with a new imam from Toronto. Hilarity ensues.
Canadian Press reports that Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, had "reservations about the depiction of Muslims as essentially a people whose lives revolve around a mosque. This is patently untrue," he said, adding that he fears the show will only serve to "pigeonhole Muslims as not more than a group that prays and preaches."
Meanwhile the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente, who says Prairie “painfully correct,” calls it part of the CBC’s mandate to instruct and uplift, complaining that no sacred cows get gored. She then goes on to detail the hyper-realistic depiction of Muslims in Canada that she’d like to watch – which read remarkably like a newscast.
What I find amazing is that there is so much weight on Little Mosque’s shoulders – and all over a sitcom. "To me, this is not a political show, this is not about the Iraq war, it's not about 9/11," say the show's creator, Zarqa Nawaz. "First and foremost, it's entertainment.” And that’s where Little Mosque succeeds. Sure, it’s not breaking any new ground – the fish-out-of-water is a comedy standard – and some of the characters are caricatures, but it was the premiere of a sitcom and should almost be expected. It had some good laughs and has some time to grow and I hope it makes it. Maybe next time there is a comedy about Muslims the only thing people will ask is: is it funny?
Update: I knew somebody was bound to post the first episode on YouTube and here it is, in four parts, for anyone who wants to check it out. Seems that more than two million Canadians did just that, making it the highest rated show of the night.