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Three years after finding unlikely success in Canada, the Western world’s first Muslim sitcom has gone mainstream at home and flourished abroad, reports Trends magazine.
November 2, 2009 3:38 by Ian Munroe
Zaib Shaikh is on the great Canadian plains, at work on a warm summer day – and he’s in trouble.
“It’s madness here,” says the 35-year-old actor. “They’re all looking at me expectantly, going ‘are you going to get off this phone?’ Cameras are set up. Lights are happening. We’re about to go from the Anglican church into the mosque - and we’re trying to fight the good fight.”
The cast and crew of “Little Mosque on the Prairie” have assembled, as they do during the warmer months, in a small town in Saskatchewan, a rectangular province of unwavering straight roads, whose third and fourth-largest exports are varieties of wheat.
Much of the filming takes place in this remote location, as the show is set mainly in Mercy, an imagined town of 14,000 mostly Christians. A much smaller community of Muslims have settled in the town, some from as far away as Nigeria.
Shaikh plays the local Imam, Amaar Rashid, who recently moved to Mercy from the big city. But most local residents are of European descent, which is one reason why the town’s mosque is housed in an Anglican parish.
“Little Mosque” is the story of how these two groups coexist, told in a satirical way. Sometimes there are quarrels within the Muslim community. On other occasions, friction erupts between them and Mercy’s other inhabitants. Often the plot unfolds through awkward miscommunication and jokes, and not always light-hearted ones.