Muslims Hope New Show Breaks Cultural Barriers [Excerpts]
Raja Musharaff is a Pakistani Muslim exchange student coming to America this fall.
He's not coming to join a terrorist cell, open a kabob shop or become a taxi driver. On the contrary, as one of the lead roles on "Aliens in America," which premiers Oct. 1 on the CW Network, Raja is more than an amicable 16-year-old; he also emerges as a moral compass to his wayward host family in Wisconsin.
"We wanted to bring a character who had a sense of his own faith, and who had a strong relationship with God, into this family that really doesn't have one," said David Guarascio, one of the producers, describing the character Raja. "Maybe this family has lost its way a little bit and the character who has a spiritual sense of himself can help them find their way."
To many Muslim Americans who say film and television depictions of Muslims are almost uniformly negative, the idea that a mainstream television network is introducing an empathetic follower of Islam -- as well as exploring Americans' own prejudices towards their faith -- is welcome news.
"The fact that Raja's the moral conscience of the show, that's probably a first on American television for any sort of Muslim character," said Edina Lekovic, a spokeswoman with the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, who was hired as a consultant for the show.