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French Tours the World to Defend Islam
Combating misconceptions about Islam, a French Muslims globe trotter has started a five-year-tour form the Far East to his home country to capture a film series that aims to show the true-face of Islam.
“I was in Malaysia when the controversial film about the Prophet Mohammed was released. Also, in France on the anniversary of 9/11, agitators started drawing offensive caricatures of the Prophet and of Islam,” the French globe-trotter Gibran Hasnaoui, told The National on Tuesday, April 15.
“I thought: ‘OK, let’s arm every Muslim we can find with a camera and a microphone and invite them to represent themselves and fight all this hate through the medium of film.’”
Hasnaoui’s life changed forever when he was appointed as sales engineer in Dubai in 2010.
“It was here [Dubai] that I actually became connected with Islam,” Hasnaoui explained.
“I was introduced to many wonderful brothers from different countries and through them I managed to learn more about my own religion.
"From Dubai I took a trip to the holy city of Mecca and in whatever I did from that point onwards, God played a more central role in my life.”
Living in luxurious Dubai, the French Muslim soon became disillusioned with city life, longing for something more fulfilling.
“That was when I had the idea to start the Muslim World Tour [MWT] – where I backpack to 50 countries in five years, filming the various Muslim communities with the intention of both satisfying my own wanderlust and curiosity as well as to take my stories back to my home country, which is notorious for its anti-Islam agenda," he noted.
Launching his MWT project, the French globe-trotter aimed to reflect on the tenets of Islam through depicting the daily life of Muslims in the countries he toured.
The short films and episodes are available at MWT YouTube channel.
“I don’t like staying in fancy hotels, so what I do is send a call-out for Muslim families willing to host us during our stay in their country,” Hasnaoui said.
“I’ve noticed that it is the poorer, less-developed countries that have the warmest and most welcoming people.”
Muslims Film Festival
The French explorer's efforts to combat Islamophopbia extended beyond the MWT film series, launching the Islam-themed short film festival in Europe last year under the title "the Mokhtar Awards".
The idea to launch the Muslim film festival was prompted by anti-Islam movies that aimed at defaming Muslims and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“Muslims are constantly being provoked and lured into scenarios where they’re depicted as being extremists," Hasnaoui said.
“Thankfully, the majority of the French public aren’t of this opinion and are actually non-aggressive – if not neutral – on their stance of Muslims.”
Based in France, the Islam short film festival has attracted dozens of enthusiast videographers from western and Muslim countries who ran for the award last December.
It had also attracted many viewers, the festival tickets were sold out two months in advance.
Sponsored by several Muslim businesses in France, the award granted the first, second and third-place winners €10,000 as well as a paid trip to Makkah for Umrah and another trip to Istanbul.
"Through the MWT and the Mokhtar Awards, I hope to raise awareness that Islam is more than just keywords such as niqab, jihad and the like," Hasnaoui said.
"These are not money-making opportunities for me – I do this solely with the intention of pleasing God, by attempting to create a more positive image of Islam and its followers."
Source: On Islam