BELFAST – Offering viewers a unique insight into the Irish Muslim community, a BBC program will broadcast on Monday, March 6, a program telling the stories and experiences of Muslim families in Northern Ireland.
“As a director, I always want to produce films that make the audience think; to look at the world differently and to challenge preconceptions. I hope that this film does all of these,” Kelda Crawford-McCann, the film’s Producer/Director, told IFTN.
“No one has ever made a television film about Northern Ireland’s Muslim community.”
The 30-mintue program, ‘True North: Islam, Belfast & Me’, tells the story of Northern Ireland’s Muslim community through the eyes of three families.
Made for BBC One Northern Ireland by Crawford McCann Media, it sets itself against the backdrop of their community trying to find a new space to meet and worship.
“As soon as I started to make this documentary I was met with a wide range of opinions and attitudes from outside the Muslim community and this just reinforced my belief that this was a documentary that needed to be made,” Crawford-McCann said.
“I hope that at the end of watching this film viewers will take away a deeper understanding and acceptance of their fellow citizens.”
Belfast Islamic Centre has been home to this community since the 1970s. It’s a Mosque, a community center and a social and cultural meeting point. Belfast’s Mosque is unusual as 42 nationalities pray side by side there.
For many decades, Muslims have been living, studying and working in Northern Ireland and True North: Islam, Belfast & Me meets a number of families to hear what it means to be Muslim here today.
“It’s an attractive story as it’s a world that we don’t see very often in our documentary or factual output,” Justin Binding the Commissioning Executive for BBC Northern Ireland said about the reason behind creating the program.
“It’s about a community that has been settled here since the seventies. The compelling part about the film is the advent of getting and opening up a bigger building for their use. There is an opportunity for us to spend some time getting a sense of what it’s like to be a Muslim in Belfast.”
Among those featured in the film are Anfal, originally from Egypt, and her husband and young daughter; local woman Róisín, a convert to Islam, and her husband Babu, originally from Bangladesh and their family; and Raied, a scientist, who moved from Mosul in Iraq to Northern Ireland in 1990, to study in Belfast.
Raied says during filming for the program: “Just now in Europe to be a Muslim is not easy, but the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are welcoming and understanding. Maybe it’s better than anywhere else in Europe and people are more understanding of the Muslim’s position at this moment in time.”
‘True North: Islam, Belfast & Me’ is on BBC One Northern Ireland, Monday 6th March at 10.40pm and is repeated again on BBC Two on Tuesday 7th March at 10pm.