Sydney, December 11: Australian Islamic leaders have urged parents to embrace religious cartoons – one being Barakah Hills, being purported as an Islamic alternative to Peppa Pig.
The shows’s theme would be loosely based on the popular series Peppa Pig, set in a “predominately Muslim town”, so Muslim youth could avoid being corrupted by mainstream children shows that spewed “rubbish” on television.
“Things that just don’t really teach children the best things that they need to learn,” said lead producer, Subhi Alshaik of One4Kids told Australian.
Mr Alshaik said Peppa Pig was “a great show” but there were reports about its themes being “not good” for children, including “teaching kids to be snobs”.
In a forum about Peppa Pig hosted on One4Kids’ – Zaky & Friends social page followers attacked the program’s “moral values”.
“Peppa Pig is very rude. Please create a cartoon that teaches kids good moral values i.e. sharing, neighbour rights, when it is time for prayer, they should stop everything and go n pray 5 times. No lying, no hitting, no shouting, getting dressed, obey parents, fasting,” wrote Zinat Joosub.
Another follower, Nacera Kefil Burekovic suggested a sheep be used for the Islamic version of the show.
Controversial Sheik Shady Alsuleiman, of the head of the Australian National Imams Council, has urged followers to favour programs espousing Islamic “principles, ethics and values”.
The council has made the call in supporting One4Kids, the western Sydney production company, producing children’s shows with Islamic themes.
A fundraising campaign has already been launched to fund the Islamic show — Barakah Hills, so unwilling Muslim children need not watch Peppa Pig.
Hoping to launch the Muslim alternative to mainstream cartoons and children’s series, the company is campaigning to raise money to produce the first two episodes of a series for an online subscriber-based audience.
The campaign on the LaunchGood website, has so far raised about $5,000. At least $20,000 is needed to begin production.
Mr Alshaik in explaining the show’s concept to SBS said, “It’s in a nice little community with a school, a mosque, a house with friends.
“They’re doing everyday things like playing in the park, going to their grandparents’ house to find out how cheese is made and how crops grow.
“We’ve got an imam in the show, and even non-Muslim characters.”
Omar and Laylah are the stars of Barakah Hills. They are children of the Abdullah family, residing in a small town.
“The masjid (mosque) is the central hub of the town, with Imam Nouradeen as the community leader and role model,” One4Kids says on its website that produces a range of popular Islamic cartoons, using Muslim characters focusing on prayer, stories of prophets, Ramadan and learning Arabic.
“As we know Muslims are averaging much higher birthrates, plus increased amount of time children are watching various videos on devices, computers, and television,” the fundraising page reads.
“With your support, One4Kids hopes to complete production on this new ongoing series inshallah.”
The platform has more than 417,000 followers on Facebook.
But, the company has received outrage and negative comments in regard to the show’s concept being a more moral alternative to Peppa Pig.
However, Mr Alshaik said the criticism about Peppa Pig was not because “we hate pigs”.
“We just don’t eat them, that’s all, like the Jews and the rest. I’ve patted pigs, I’ve watched Babe, we just don’t eat them,” he told Australian.
He added that it had “just blown out of proportion”.
“I thought we need a show for the Muslim community.”
A Barakah Hills post reads:
“Barakah Hills represents an ideal Muslim community and is targeted to a post-toddler, preschool demographic of children.
“The show’s main objective is to show children what it is like to be a practising Muslim as well as a good citizen in their community.
“Children will learn everything from how to have good manners, to how to get actively involved with community projects.”