Date(s) - 02/02/2018
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
This film will be shown on 2 February at the University of Coventry as part of the Cine UNACov programme.
Intimate and shocking, “Among the Believers” offers rare insights into the ideological battles shaping Pakistan and the Muslim world. The film has been nominated for an Emmy Award and has received many others, but has been banned in Pakistan.
This film follows the lives of two teenage students who have attended madrassas (Islamic seminaries) run by the Red Mosque network organised by charismatic cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi. Throughout the film, their paths diverge. Talha, 12, detaches from his moderate Muslim family and decides to become a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes her madrassah and joins a regular school. Over the next few years, Zarina’s education is threatened by frequent Taliban attacks on schools like her own.
Abdul Aziz Ghazi is an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally. He is waging jihad against the Pakistani state. His dream is to impose a strict version of Shariah law throughout the country, as a model for the world. A flashpoint in Aziz’s holy war took place in 2007, when the government leveled his flagship mosque to the ground, killing his mother, brother, only son and 150 students. With unprecedented access, Among the Believers follows Aziz on his very personal quest to create an Islamic utopia, during the bloodiest period in Pakistan’s modern history.
Aziz’s foil is nuclear physicist and leading educational activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. He passionately opposes Aziz through his public appearances, lectures, and the media. Opposition against Aziz came to a head in December, 2014, when Aziz insulted a grieving nation by trying to justify the brutal massacre of 132 school children in Peshawar by the Taliban. The attack ignited a movement to end extremism in Pakistan’s mosques and madrassas. Led by Hoodbhoy and others, Pakistan’s moderate majority focused on Aziz and calls for his arrest.
Hollywood Film Festival Best Documentary
Tasveer Seattle South Asian Film Festival Audience Choice
Alba Human Rights Film Fest Best Documentary
UNESCO-Fellini Prize International Film Festival of India
IDFA International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam Official Selection
Winner CPH:DOX F:ACT Award
“Defined by its jaw-dropping access, Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s sobering new documentary drops viewers into the heart of an organization known as the Red Mosque, a network of madrassas that aims to spread its jihadist ideology by targeting the most vulnerable Pakistanis: lower-class children.” – Time Out New York
“The directors let their subjects speak without overtly passing judgment. And while it is maddening to see the aversion to open-minded education by Mr. Aziz (“‘Progressive thought’ is dying,” he declares, pleased), we also see the stark poverty that leaves others with few choices but to follow him.” NEW YORK TIMES
“By establishing trust with their subjects and persisting in telling this story over several years, Hemal and Mo were able to provide in-depth perspective on what may be causing the rise of radical Islamism, something Americans can’t easily find on nightly newscasts. Despite multiple rejections from funders, and death threats from Taliban supporters, they persevered and created a documentary that all Americans, and hopefully one day Pakistanis – it’s currently banned in Pakistan–need to see.” Tribeca Film Institute
“Despite the hot-button nature of their material, the filmmakers strive to keep their tone even handed…” “The filmmaker captures a man of contradictions.” ~ Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal
“Having been filmed over the course of five precarious years, Among The Believers follows the infamous Pakistani cleric and ISIS supporter, Abdul Aziz Ghazi, in light of a country on the precipice of acute religiosity and rising sectarian violence.” Forbes
“I found it alarming, but most of all I found I illuminating.” Owen Gleiberman, BBC