Zarqa Nawaz

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Zarqa Nawaz
Born1968 (age 51–52)
OccupationJournalist, broadcaster, filmmaker, writer

Zarqa Nawaz (born 1968 in Liverpool, England) is a Canadian freelance writer, journalist, broadcaster, and filmmaker of Pakistani origin.


A Muslim woman of Pakistani origin, she was raised in the Toronto area and attended Chinguacousy Secondary School. Initially, Nawaz planned to go to medical school. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Toronto. She completed a second degree in journalism at Ryerson University in 1992. She worked with CBC Radio, CBC Newsworld, CBC Television's The National, and CTV's Canada AM, and was an associate producer of several CBC Radio programs including Morningside. Her 1992 radio documentary The Changing Rituals of Death won multiple awards at the Ontario Telefest Awards. Stating that she became "bored of journalism", she took a summer film workshop at the Ontario College of Art & Design and began working as a filmmaker, using comedy to explore the relationships between Muslims and their neighbours in contemporary North America. She has described the goal of her production company, FUNdamentalist Films, as "putting the 'fun' back into fundamentalism".

In an interview with Prairie Dog Magazine, Nawaz said her screenplay Real Terrorists Don't Bellydance was "inspired by movies like True Lies and Executive Decision". She describes it as a "new genre of film", a cross between a terrorist flick and a comedy: "I call it a 'terrordy.'" [1] Her use of humour in the television series Little Mosque on the Prairie attracted media attention ranging from CNN and The Jerusalem Post to The Colbert Report even before it aired, prompting the CBC to broadcast it months ahead of its original schedule.

Nawaz's CBC show Little Mosque on the Prairie was inspired by her documentary Me and the Mosque. Nawaz felt that mosques would be run differently if imams were recruited from North America instead of being brought from overseas where cultural differences, especially when it came to women, affected how the imams behaved with their congregation.

Her memoir Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, published in 2014, was a shortlisted nominee for the 2015 Stephen Leacock Award.[2]

Zarqa Nawaz is the mother of four children and lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Short films[edit]

  • BBQ Muslims (1995) - Two Muslim brothers are accused of terrorism after their barbecue explodes in their backyard.
  • Death Threat (1998) - A young Muslim novelist claims to have received a death threat in order to get her book published.
  • Random Check (2005) - A young man, late for his wedding, turns to the media after being arrested at the airport as the result of racial profiling.
  • Fred's Burqa (2005) - A stolen burqa leads to mistaken identity, a career change and true love.


  • Real Terrorists Don't Bellydance (2003) - a struggling actor inadvertently takes a role as a stereotypical Muslim terrorist, to his fiancée's chagrin

Feature-length films[edit]

  • Me and the Mosque (2005) - documentary about the role of women in Islam, both throughout history and in contemporary Canada, told from a personal perspective.[3]

Television series (writer)[edit]

  • Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007 – 2012) - comedy about relations between Muslims and non-Muslims living in a fictional Saskatchewan town called Mercy.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]