Zarqa Nawaz


She’s opened people’s eyes in small-town Saskatchewan, now she’s looking to do the same in big-city Vancouver.

Zarqa Nawaz, creator and writer of the CBC sitcom Little Mosque On The Prairie, is the keynote speaker at a lecture series at the University of British Columbia’s Chan Centre tonight.

For the series, Manufacturing Islam: Muslim Identities In The 21st Century, Nawaz will discuss the powerful role film and television play in altering pre-conceived beliefs.

Nawaz said the show, about the Muslim population in a rural prairie town, has changed people’s perceptions of the Muslim community, which is often misunderstood and portrayed in a negative light.

"People have told me they’ve never seen a Muslim woman in hijab who’s a feminist and is working and has a job and is a doctor," said Nawaz. "So to show a character like that on television is (eye opening)."

She added that young Muslim women face the same challenges as do non-Muslim women.

"Any woman has to make a decision about what she wants to do with her life and how she wants to express herself," she said. "Sometimes those come into conflict with her parents and sometimes they don’t."

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