(By Carol Sanders) Ever wonder what young Muslims here would say to a violent extremist if they got the chance? You can find out in less than three minutes.
That’s how long it takes to watch Letter to a Terrorist, a short film by Winnipeg filmmaker Nilufer Rahman.
She and her company, Snow Angel Films, brought together a group of Muslim friends to share what they wanted the film to say.
south Winnipeg that looks as far away as one can get from the chaos of recent terror in San Bernardino, Paris and Beirut.
The voice-over written by Rahman in English and translated to French starts with a young woman saying she feels helpless. She cannot move — her body is frozen and yet her heart is racing and her mind can’t be stilled.
With world events, that’s how many young Muslims are feeling right now, said Rahman who grew up in Winnipeg.
They’re just as confused by the motives of an Islamic State terrorist as anyone else in Winnipeg, yet they’re expected to explain it, Rahman said in an interview.
“Faith is something to draw comfort, peace and inspiration from,” she said. “This is the foundation from which I’ve learned my faith and any relationship I build is supposed to be based on peace. To try and reconcile acts of terrorism in the name of Islam by people who say they’re Muslim is very difficult… It puts every Muslim on the globe in a precarious position,” she said.
“A lot of people are saying ‘Where are the moderate Muslims? Why aren’t they speaking up? Why aren’t they doing anything?’ ” said Rahman. “I know a lot of Muslims are doing that. They’re speaking to community groups and mosques are opening their doors and trying to build bridges and create opportunities for conversations to eliminate some of the fear.”
They still feel powerless. “You can’t talk directly to the extremist.”
She said Letter to a Terrorist is a form of art therapy.
“My hope was that it would be a way for all of us to articulate how we feel without having to speak it all the time,” she said.
The film’s narration denounces terrorists and expresses sorrow for the pain they’ve caused their victims and families — and sorrow for the backlash against Muslims being felt now.
“They ask me to apologize for what you have done… I’m sorry for the loss of innocents, sorry for the grief of those left to mourn, sorry for those us of left to bear the burden of your toxic hate,” Letter to a Terrorist says.
People hate me because they hear my name and see you. They see my face and they see you. But I am not you. I hate what you do. I never want to be in that dark place that gives you licence to kill and maim so mercilessly and cowardly… Our hearts are not born to hate. Who has poisoned your heart against the world?”
The film ends on a gentle note with the unexpected appearance of a peaceful and silent visito
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