Me, the Muslim Next Door

Me, the Muslim Next Door

(November 23, 2011) – Muslims are constantly in the news in Canada, but unfortunately, often in the context of controversy. How does this affect young Canadian Muslims opinions about themselves, their community and others?

Radio Canada International (RCI) has produced a bilingual, audiovisual webdoc, Me, the Muslim Next Door, that provides a platform for young Canadian Muslims to speak for themselves on life issues such as love, religion, culture, politics, community, and family.

The webdoc by Oussayma Canbarieh and directed by Hector Vilar introduces the audience to Dania, Eduardo, Jamilla, Laila, Mehdi, Rizwan and Suad, seven young Canadian Muslims living in Montreal and Toronto.

Their experiences are shown through 24 segments of video, audio, and photos that shed light on what it’s like to be young, Canadian and Muslim. The 120 minutes of content breaks down stereotypes and delves into their personal stories.

SEE documentary here:



Jamilla is a Somali immigrant living in Toronto. She first introduces us to her close-knit family at their home for Sunday night dinner. We then follow her to work at Africans in Partnership Against AIDS, meet two of Jamilla’s friends as they discuss challenges facing Somali youth and explore her civic and community engagements.

Laila and Mehdi

One Afghan Shiite refugee from Toronto plus one Moroccan Sunni immigrant from Montreal equals the recently married couple of Mehdi and Laila. They speak about how they met on Facebook, Muslim marriage, and their relationship. Laila introduces us to her father in Toronto, a former dentist in Kabul who is now a taxi driver, and back in Montreal, we witness her effort to integrate into her new home in Quebec.


Eduardo converted to Islam four years ago, after having spent many years distrustful of Muslims. Since then, he has been integrating into his new community and sharing his new religion with his Brazilian family and old friends, learning Arabic and delving into the life stories of other converts, like Malcolm X.


We assist to Dania’s 23rd birthday celebration, where there is no alcohol and only women are present. She introduces us to her French-Canadian mother, who converted to Islam more than 20 years ago, and then takes us to her Eritrean father’s home, where we witness the different outlooks of first and second generations. Later, she makes decisions about her life after graduation from law school.


Suad explains why she decided to wear the hijab, and how her mother’s passing has influenced her life choices. She introduces us to her husband Karim, and we visit Suad’s Arabic Saturday school class. While raising money for a humanitarian organization, Suad tells us how she experienced discrimination as a visible Muslim in Montreal.


Rizwan has met with hundreds of young Canadian Muslims while working on the Muslim Youth Canada Project, and he introduces us to some of these young people at a workshop. We later meet his family, get a glimpse into what it was like for him to grow up as a Muslim in Canada, and discuss radicalization, the media, and young Muslims’ relationship with Canadian security agencies.