Sunday 22 January 2017

The Lost Muslim review: Baz Ashmawy gets blown away by his new friends

Published 20/12/2015 | 02:30

Baz Ashmawy explores his muslim roots
Baz Ashmawy explores his muslim roots

At the outset of Baz: The Lost Muslim (RTÉ2), Baz Ashmawy asked "Why am I looking for God? Why am I looking for a faith all of a sudden?"

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Could it perhaps have been because there was a two-part television series in it for him? And is that what led him to wonder about the reaction of the Irish-based Muslims he was about to encounter: "Will they just think I'm some gobshite doing a TV show?"

Certainly it was all Me-Me-Me as the presenter of 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy (recently, and to my mind inexplicably, awarded an Emmy) went about exploring the Muslim roots he'd inherited from his Libyan father.

For the purposes of the series, he gave up drinking, though he did drop into his local to meet some of his Irish buddies, who all expressed disbelief that his new-found adherence to Islam would last.

He also went to Ballyhaunis ("the Islamic heartland of Ireland") where he met a guy who instructed him in the art of Islamic praying. "I'm blown away," he said afterwards.

He also had a chat with Dublin teenager Sofia, who was such a zealous convert that she had deleted all the music she formerly loved as it "plays with the mind".

He let that one go and hadn't anything to say about the extremes of Islam beyond noting that he'd love it all to be "normal, because at the moment it's not".

In the next episode he'll be meeting up with his stepsister in Cairo, but in the meantime he wondered "Am I a changed man?" Maybe that will depend on the ratings.

RTÉ1, which has all but abandoned arts programming, offered us Druid Shakespeare, in which director Garry Hynes, dramatist Mark O'Rowe and various cast members spoke of their project to refashion the bard's history plays from an Irish perspective.

I'm sure the film was fascinating to insiders, but I have a low tolerance for theatre people when they indulge in soul-searching analyses of their craft, which really is none of my business.

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