The idea for making the documentary My Week As a Muslim came to me after I spent almost a year in Birmingham, filming a series for Channel 4 called Extremely British Muslims in and around Birmingham Central Mosque.
Towards the end of our time there, the Brexit vote happened. Almost immediately, there was an English Defence League demonstration outside a mosque in Birmingham, and the number of attacks on Muslims spiked dramatically. We only managed to capture a small part of this, but in the coming weeks there were reports seemingly every day about hate crime, and articles on Britain’s diverse but divided communities – living parallel lives but not integrating.
I wanted the new show to bring to a wide audience the harsh realities of what was happening. We wanted to do something bold and experimental to achieve this. Often, when making documentaries, you feel you are preaching to the converted. I was determined to make something that would reach people who wouldn’t normally watch a programme about Muslims.
[TOP RATED COMMENT 471 votes] “We started filming the day before the Manchester bombing. After that happened, everyone was shaken and we questioned whether we should continue”
To be honest, whatever findings came out of the programme are rendered somewhat meaningless by what happened that night. I don’t think the UK is an especially intolerant country, but I literally can think of nothing more likely to ferment intolerance than somebody blowing himself up at a kids concert in the name of a cause which aims to bring down the society he’s chosen to live in.
Yes, we know it’s not all Muslims. Yes, we know the vast majority of Muslims are ordinary people who don’t want to commit acts of terrorism. By the same token, the vast majority of British people didn’t yell abuse at Muslims the day after a jihadi attack which specifically targeted children and teenagers. So maybe give us a break?
[2ND 442] “fearful of women wearing the niqab.”
She has every right to be offended by full face coverings.
It is a powerful symbol of the subjugation and inferior status of women.
It is also an insult to the men in our society.
[3RD 380] “Saima Alvi is a strong, independent woman” but “one of the first things we did was meet the imam from her local mosque and the chairman of the local British Muslim Heritage Centre”.
Such a strong and independent woman that she needs the approval of the local Muslim patriarchy to take part in a reality TV show?
[4TH 314] Imagine if the millions of British Muslims were not Muslims but conservative Christians from deep South USA who had moved to the UK. Their backwards views would immediately be called out by liberals. But for some reason Islam gets a free pass from the left; misogyny ain’t a problem when Muslims are doing it. [Guardian Cif] Read more