South African comedian, Riaad Moosa, is at the forefront of a campaign that aims to change the negative perceptions of Muslims. Called #MuslimNotExtremist, it aims to show that Muslims are normal people leading lives that are anything but militant.
Riaad Moosa is one of the country’s Muslims who put on twitter what their role in society is and this was to show they are anything but extremist. (Image: Supplied)
“My super power is: I advocate tolerance [and] peace every single day.” This is one of many tweets posted on Monday, 13 April 2015, under the hashtag #MuslimNotExtremist.
Backed by South African comedian, Riaad Moosa, the campaign addresses the negative perceptions of Muslims by getting Muslim- and non-Muslim users to describe their role in society and the work that they do.
Earlier this month, 148 students at Garissa University College in Kenya were killed by al-Shabaab militants. Muslims from all over South Africa have spoken against the terrorists and called their act a violation of Islam.
Moosa says the campaign allows Muslims to show they are normal people leading lives that are anything but extremist.
He further explained how the campaign works:
— RiaadMoosa(@RiaadMoosa) April 13, 2015
— RiaadMoosa(@RiaadMoosa) April 13, 2015
Creators of an upcoming television dialogue series called Muslink started the campaign.
Jehad Kasu, an entrepreneur within the media industry, is the executive producer of Muslink. He says they wanted to create a simple interactive show on what Islam is really about. “Looking at the uptake of the campaign, this is an issue that many Muslims and non-Muslims want to discuss, but never had the platform or opportunity to do so. Now they do.”
Kasu says the series aims to show viewers that Muslims also fulfil important roles in society that “they would never have earned if they were deemed to be ‘extremist’ by virtue of their religious beliefs”.
Creating better perceptions
Kasu says Muslink started as a passion project. “I observed that platforms existed for the recognition of captains of industry and politicians. And when that captain of industry or politician acts questionably, and is a Muslim, the media will emphasise that a Muslim is responsible for an undesired act of mischief or unlawfulness.
“But if that same Muslim politician or captain of industry made a world first discovery, pioneered new research or technological breakthrough – the media will only credit him or her within their profession and not as a Muslim.”
Kasu says this saddens him. “I know plenty of Muslim personalities that are pioneers in their fields of expertise, but don’t receive a fraction of the recognition they deserve.
“So we developed Muslink – a platform celebrating Muslim excellence and providing a counter-narrative to mainstream media’s messaging about the Muslim community and demonstrating the side of Islam that too often doesn’t make headline news.”
Great support and feedback
Kasu says they have received an overwhelming response on Twitter. More tweets streamed in on Tuesday and Wednesday. “We would like to thank all respondents for their comments and assisting us to breakdown an untrue and unfortunate stereotype about the Muslim community,” said Kasu.
This is what people tweeted since Monday:
I'm a servant of the Creator, a family man, an artist, songwriter, producer & broadcaster! #MuslimNotExtremist
— EBI The Inglisman(@Inglisman) April 13, 2015
— Bilal | ????? (@bilalr) April 13, 2015
— My Surname is Khan (@ejaz_k) April 13, 2015
— Yusuf Omar (@YusufOmarSA) April 13, 2015
— rizbphotography(@RizBphotography) April 13, 2015
— Sunny Morgan (@sunnyboymorgan) April 13, 2015
Muslink will host its first dialogue at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday, 30 April, between 7am – 11am. It will be broadcasted on Deen TV and Radio 786, both of which are dedicated to the Muslim community. The broadcast on Deen TV will be from 7:30pm on the same day. Radio 786 will broadcast live from the venue from 09:10am on the day. Kasu says this is the first of four live events for 2015.
Television personality, Faizal Sayed, will host the show with Moosa as his guest. Kasu says #MuslimNotExtremist will form part of a discussion that would include medical research, politics and sports mentorship.
Watch the Muslink advert here:
Watch why Riaad Moosa asks “how do you think I feel” when he is a Muslim on a plane:
Watch a Muslim woman give a message to ISIS and other extremists: