Muslim mosques get the ‘Idol’ treatment

By Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein


Posted Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:34am AEDT
Updated Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:02pm AEDT

Representatives answer questions about their mosque. (

A British television channel has come up with a reality knockout show, Model Mosque, which asks viewers to vote on the nation’s best mosque.

This comes as Britain’s Muslim community has set up a watchdog organisation to combat extremism in the nation’s mosques.

A draft code of practice includes a pledge to promote civic responsibility and not to exclude women and young people.

Each weekend many Muslims across the UK sit down on Saturday night and flick their remote control to the Islam channel.

 This is the beginning of the end. Shimmitude and Stupidity rolled into one. Glossing over the real issues of extremism and Wahabbi idealogy while doing a stupid reality show. This is bizarre.

Allyson Rowen Taylor


Model Mosque’s creator and host, Abrar Hussain, opens the show by inviting viewers to cast judgement on places of worship.

Assalamu alaykum my brothers and sisters, welcome to Model Mosque 2007. Every week we’ll be showing you two different mosques,” he says.

“Then you, the audience, will have the opportunity to cast a vote and help decide who will go through to round two.”

There is no hanging judge, or the showbiz venom of most reality TV shows, but it works the same way, with audiences kicking a mosque out of the competition each week.

Mr Hussain says the program is designed for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

“It’s something that’s really going to catch their imagination and, to be frank, I mean it was something that we needed,” he said.

“Most people who are non-Muslim in the UK, basically their impression of mosques is gained from mosques in the mass media or commercial media,” he said.

“They look at the TV reports, they open the newspapers on any given day, you know, and they’ll see a negative story about mosques.”

Mr Hussain says he has real concern that mosques and terrorism are becoming closely linked in the public eye.

Mosques and terrorism are linked, you know, in a lot of news reports and press reports, and we just wanted to show a different side of mosques,” he said.

“So when I wrote the format, I really wanted to write something that would show mosques in a positive light.”

But he is quick to point out that it is not just another reality television show.

“A lot of them our friend Simon Cowell (creator of Pop Idol) came out with and most of these shows, if not all of them, are based on individuals. They’re based on people,” he said.

“Whereas in this show the mosques are the star of the show. The mosque is an institution that we’re judging, that we’re voting for.”

Sparked by the bombings in London more than two years ago, Britain’s four major Muslim organisations have come up with the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board.

It will ask mosques to sign up to a community watchdog, and the watchdog will be able to launch spot checks on standards.

Many mosques are accused of failing to adequately serve their local communities, and the British Government says mosques can help marginalise the extremists who are trying to recruit young Muslims.


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