East Toronto filmmaker Faud Chowdhury will be screening his latest documentary Change Your Name Ousama – How Canadian Muslims Were Marginalized by 9/11, at The Fox, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. This 48-minute documentary reflects on the experiences of Muslim-Canadians after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States.
“The anti-terrorist act that the government passed right after 9/11 gave the RCMP special powers,” said Chowdhury. “Although not specifically targeting Muslims, it made even third generation Canadian Muslims – most of whom had never been to a Muslim country – very uncomfortable.”
Chowdhury, a Muslim originally from Bangladesh, wanted to make a film to show Canadians that not all Muslims are terrorists.
“The mainstream media tends to paint all Muslims as a unified group,” he said. “We are not.”
The result is a well-balanced film showing the diversity of the Muslim community.
“After 9/11 Imans, fearful of a backlash, advised young women to take off their hijabs to ‘blend in,’ said Chowdhury. “Young men were told shave their beards or, if their names were Mohammed or Ousama, to change them right away.”
Among the many interviewed and profiled in the documentary are an Ottawa Member of Parliament, and a member of CSIS, Canada’s security agency, Also featured are Toronto Star writer Haroon Sadiique, and University of Toronto racism expert Shareen Razik.
“The problem,” Chowdhury wants to get across in Ousama Change Your Name, “is that a majority of Canadian Muslims are feeling vulnerable and threatened because of a small group of extremists.”
Chowdhury taught for a number of years at Emerson College in Boston. He was hired by York University to be a visiting guest lecturer in Delhi, India, a base from which he travelled throughout his South Asian homeland. In 2010 he married and returned to Toronto and currently lives with his wife and family in Crescent Town.
Change Your Name Ousama played at the Montreal International Film Festival this month. There is no fee for the Fox screening, but you are asked to register by calling Matthew Kellway’s Constiuency Office at 416-467-0860, or email email@example.com to ensure a seat.