CAIRO - With misconceptions about the sizable minority are on the rise, a British Muslim is using films and social media to challenge prejudice against Muslims and promote religious harmony in the European country.
"We are trying to achieve a level of integration and tolerance between communities in an area [social media] that's being ignored by the government," Amjid Khazir, director of Media Cultured, told The Guardian.
"If you ever wanted to define big society, this is it."
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Khazir's organization has produced a short movie to clear misconceptions about the 2.5 million Muslims in Britain.
The film, Combinations, features Muslim Olympic torch bearer Imran Naeem, who is a boxing trainer.
A trailer of the movie shows a serious-looking man with a bushy beard staring intently at the camera.
Though the image is familiar of an angry Muslim, the man breaks into laughter and begins to talk about his pride in being British, breaking the people's presumptions.
As a positive role model for young Muslims he [Naeem] is a fantastically credible, practicing [Muslim], guy who's part of the community and who also challenges the xenophobic views and discriminatory views of racists who paint us all as one bloc of evil Mullahs," says Khazir.
He's the antithesis of that.
We can achieve the same ends with one piece of work. We can reduce extremism, providing positive role models for Muslims and to non-Muslims we can show the opposite of what the stereotypes portray in the media."
British Muslims have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks in 2005.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
A recent report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex found that Muslims are the most likely of all groups to be identified with the concept of Britishness.'
Last year, think tank Demo found that Muslims in the United Kingdom are more patriotic than the rest of population.
The idea of the film came to the Muslim Briton after the death of his uncle of a heart attack in 2011 after being assaulted by a drunken passenger.
"He was like a father to me, Khazir said.
He lived next door to me, I grew up with him â¦ I gave up the job I was doing and thought: 'I am going to make this work.'"
Khazir opines that the social media is an effective tool to challenge extremism by and against Muslims.
"Young people especially are often recruited and indoctrinated using videos posted on different social media channels - this can be by simply following a Twitter link."
Social media have been used by anti-Islam groups to provoke Muslims in the past.
In September, a trailer of a US-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) was widely circulated on the Internet and YouTube.
The insulting material sparked massive protests around the Muslim world and strained relations between Muslims and the West on the using the freedom of expression to insult religious sanctities.
Khazir is also planning another film, Head for Cover about the importance of hijab (headscarf) for Muslims.
"It's not a piece of clothing that's divisive, or causing separation or segregation," says Khazir.
"It's actually just a personal freedom, a simple item of clothing which has biblical traditions right from the Jewish matriarchs to Mary."
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.The hijab has been thrust into the spotlight since France banned the Muslim outfit in 2004 in public places. Several European countries have followed suit.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net