SBS broke the news last night that Australia’s 360,000-odd Muslims now have a new Mufti.
Last night’s premiere episode of Salam Café saw Dave Hughes dressed up in ceremonial robes and a turban and declared mufti by compere Ahmed Imam (whose dad, coincidentally, is current mufti Fehmi el-Imam). Sheik Hughsy left the live Melbourne audience in hysterics.
SBS picked up this community-based show from Channel 31, where the show picked up a bunch of Antenna Awards in 2006 including Best Program on Community TV. The show features a panel of talented young Victorians including a couple of brilliant young stand-up comics, three charming hostesses, an author and that son-of-a-mufti I mentioned earlier.
The show was filmed before a live Melbourne audience, though rumour has it they’re filming some shows in Sydney.
One panel member is no stranger to mainstream TV. As a university student, ophthalmologist Dr Ahmed Hassan raised eyebrows among conservative community leaders by appearing on and (if my memory serves me correctly) winning a “Red Faces” segment on an episode of that Channel 9 classic Hey Hey! It’s Saturday. Back then, the idea of using popular culture to break down stereotypes was a little too cutting-edge for the middle-aged men that ran Australia’s mosques.
But times have changed. At least they have in Victoria. A fair few stars of this show hold senior positions on the Islamic Council of Victoria. And with Sheik Hughsy as their spiritual leader, it looks like mufti day has just hit the big time!
First published in the Crikey daily alert for Thursday 8 May 2008.
Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf