The rise of ISIS, and extremist attacks in different countries, have placed Islam and Muslims under an intense media spotlight. Islam is suffering from a bad press, with a non-stop flow of negative stories. Muslims and non-Muslims are all asking what is radicalising so many young people. Why choose terrorism over peace?
We now know that many extremists have been radicalised over the Internet. Young people surf around and watch videos on free platforms. After pornography and violent films, extremism probably dominates the search fields.
We cannot guard the Internet but we can populate it with more uplifting content. Everyone I know struggles to find a platform with well-produced, up-to-date content about Islam and Muslims. If terrorists are distorting the religion, who is depicting the best of what Islam has to offer?
Parents often ask me where they can send their children for good, authentic educational programmes and entertainment. A lot of the current Muslim offerings are preachy, prescriptive and low in production quality. Young western-born Muslims are media- and tech-savvy, and will only watch content which speaks to them at their level and in a contemporary style.
Two years ago I and three other media professionals decided to tackle the issue. We founded Alchemiya to showcase the world’s best video content about Islam and the Muslim world – people and places, past and present, art, history, culture, spirituality, business and much more. It provides a subscription-based video on-demand service with programmes about the very best examples of
Today Alchemiya is available globally, and is fast building a customer base of discerning young educated urban Muslims. Currently in beta mode, with a limited selection of 37 titles, the service attracts new subscribers every day and a healthy following on social media. Most of our customers are attracted by our social mission to promote a more positive and balanced image of Islam and Muslims. The management team’s experience in mainstream broadcasting and financial management allows the project to differentiate itself as to quality.
Alchemiya’s content comes from across the world. We take care to select films and documentaries that are relevant to the lives and values of our target audience. We also commission programmes that validate a positive, creative Muslim identity, and foster tolerance through the diversity of our contributors. We promise to build a world-class media company that is globally recognised, and is a conduit for transformational experiences.
Ajmal Masroor is an Imam and broadcaster based in London.