Australian Muslims to launch TV studio

Australian Muslim TV studio, Islam TV, aims to counter media 'bias'. Aims to offer opposition to what it sees as negative representations of Islam in country's mainstream media.

An Australian Muslim community has set up a A$1 million television studio to counter what it sees as negative representations of Islam in the country's mainstream media.

The One Path Network studio says it aims to spread the word of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims through videos on current affairs and interviews with local sheikhs on Islamic teachings.

The studio - funded by community donations - runs from western Sydney, from where it makes films and edits videos for a YouTube channel.

Network head Malaz Majanni told ABC News this week that the studio had been set up at a time "where there is a lot of pressure on the Muslim community."

"Unfortunately, you do find that with the mainstream media, sometimes we are misrepresented, lost in translation, and here we are able to make sure that a clear message is sent out," he said.

The establishment of the studio – cited as a 21st Dawah initiative – comes in the wake of a thaw in relations between the Muslim community and government.

Grand Mufti Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed has slammed Australia's involvement in Syria and its support for Israel, telling Australia's 7News that it will lead to more young Muslims joining the ISIL.

He's also advised embattled Prime Minister Tony Abbott to give up his day job, saying he should “work in any field other than politics.”

“I personally elected him in the previous elections. But believe me, I will not repeat this mistake again... If there’s any advice to be given, then with my full respect to the Australian people in choosing him, and my full respect to his presence as prime minister… I would say: ‘Work in any field other than politics.’”

Days before Abbott attempted to bring in new security powers to clamp down on extremists, an international Muslim organization even accused him of using Australia's Muslims as a scapegoat to sew up his dwindling popularity.

“It’s a clear case of the prime minister using national security to shore up his personal job security and, more broadly, he’s pulling out the good old national security card to tap into the politics of fear to gain political points," Uthman Badar - the spokesperson for the Australian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir - told.

To combat such "misrepresentations" One Path Network has striven to provide its own take on such events as the Sydney siege, where Iranian-born Australian Man Haron Monis took hostages at a Cafe for 17 hours.

He shot dead the cafe manager, and both he and a female hostage died in the ­ensuing gun battle.

Network head Majannitold ABC that it has a responsibility to highlight that such acts were rogue acts committed under a flag of Islam, not necessarily Islamic.

"Our approach was to make sure that it's clear that this act is not an Islamic act," he said.

"This person Man Haron Monis was known to the authorities as a criminal and he had no connection whatsoever with ISIL. He couldn't even get the right flag," he said.

With around 90 Australians thought to be fighting with ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, the channel has instead chosen to focus on a former Labor Party official who has been battling ISIL with Iraqi Kurdish groups in Syria.

"The approach was to make sure that there's no particular targeting against the Muslim community, that the law is applicable to all Australians," Majanni said.

In a National Security Statement at the Canberra headquarters of the Australian Federal Police last month, Abbot said that he hoped more Muslim leaders would state that Islam was a religion of peace and mean it.

Speaking on the new network's current affairs program, Spotlight, Sheikh Wesam Charkawi from the Auburn Gallipoli mosque in a Sydney suburb said that Abbott was implying that the entire Muslim community was complicit.

Such comments just add to our mistrust, he added.

"The Muslim community has lost trust and feels completely abandoned by the Government. I have never seen it at a point so low," Charkwai said.

"I haven't seen it this bad before. These are the sentiments that are being conveyed on a daily basis."

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