Sunday 22 April 2018

50 Ways star Baz Ashmawy: 'The more we fight against Muslims living here, the more it feeds into Daesh propoganda'

Baz Ashmawy explores his muslim roots
Baz Ashmawy explores his muslim roots
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Presenter Baz Ashmawy has revealed the stance he now takes on Deash and Islam following the filming of his documentary The Lost Muslim.

The documentary concludes tonight and the second episode sees the 40-year-old presenter interview Guardian journalist Nicolas Hénin was held hostage in Syria in 2013 for 10 months. 

Of 24 people held hostage, 15 were released and the others were beheaded.

"He had been to Syria five or six times before he was captured and he's very much of the same line as myself," revealed Baz on Newstalk Breakfast.

"There's a lot of propoganda.  Daesh, what they want to do is force a wedge between Muslims in western countries.  I think what's happening at the moment is these people have hijacked a religion that has for such a long time, since Mohammad was around, has been peaceful. 

"These people have twisted it and taken a very extreme idology and tapped into the propoganda of 'the West hate you, they don't want you' and the more we fight against the Muslims living here and have Islamophobia, the more it feeds into their propoganda and that's the problem."

Baz was born in Libya to an Egyptian Muslim father and Roman Catholic Mother, and grew up in Cairo before moving to Dublin where he continued to live in a Muslim household, even after his parents separated.

However, at 10 years old he was baptised Catholic.

"After a few years of going to the mosque on my own, I think my mother just wanted me to fit in at the time, and I was baptised at 10 or 11 and then I fell out of love with that religion also and I've been winging it ever since!" joked Baz.

His decision to film a documentary about Islam was driven by two factors - his daughters and a "spirituality crisis".

"I was hearing a lot of things about Islam being regurgitated by friends and I've two little girls and one is five and in a couple of years she's going to ask me questions about Islam, and why does her aunt wear a hijab, and I felt like I didn't know enough to explain it to her," he said.

"Plus I turned 40 and was going through a bit of a spirituality crisis and I thought, well let's have a look at what's out there.  I've kind of had the same mantra for years, yeah I believe in something but I don't know what that is, nothing non-religious, no organised religions, I just thought I'll dip back into Islam because that's what I was born into."

The first episode, which aired last week, was an exploration of what Islam is and what it means.

"It started off on this kind of spiritual journey," he said.  "I think people are just interseted.  There's a lot of stereotypes out there all the time, and to anyone who's Muslim or who lives in a Middle Eastern country or any Islamic country you hear them and think that's not right, that's wrong.  It was just to kind of get a grounding in it."

However, as he started filming, events happened which impacted on the tone of the documentary.

"Then when I started the show Tunisia happened and then after that it was the refugee crisis hitting the front pages and after that the Russian airliner in Sinai in Egypt and then Paris and the show took a big turn and I felt I had to delve into this area so the second show is different.  It's heavy-hitting," he added.

The Lost Muslim airs on RTE 2 at 10.05pm tonight (Tuesday December 22).

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

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