PERTH – Aiming to give a voice to Australian Muslims, an online channel has been launched by Perth Muslims to correct the image of Islam, filling an important void in the Australian media.
"We're using the media to dictate our own narratives," Roots TV creator Abdulrahim Elmi told SBS on Friday, March 6.
"To control exactly what we broadcast and we're so proud of that as a community and we've met some amazing people along the way."
Launched a few months ago, Roots TV aims to offer an alternative to mainstream media that rarely cover Muslim issues.
The Muslim online channel tackles various topics ranging from politics to sport, technology, travel and comedy.
"As salamu alaykum, peace be upon you, and welcome to another Roots TV, my name is Alim and I'll be your host this evening," host Alim said during one filming session.
"Roots TV is all about empowering and celebrating the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things."
His guest, Sarah Ross, talked about her work helping people to find asylum in Western Australia.
"One that comes to mind is a man I visit from Afghanistan, he's been refused refugee status," Ross said.
All the programs are uploaded online to Roots TV, which started to gain more viewership.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Currently, about 5.7 percent of the ADF's 57,000-strong permanent force identify as coming from a non-English speaking background.
About 5.4 percent were born overseas in countries other than New Zealand, Britain, Canada and the US.
Roots TV was praised by Western Australian Muslims who described it a channel for everyone, not only Muslims.
"I think these notions of being moderate or not, you're just a Muslim,” the former director at the WA Office of Multicultural Interests Maria Osman said.
"And I think that it's critical that mainstream society look at Roots TV and see some of the great interviews, some of the dynamic people, the comedians, some of the political commentary that's coming out of Roots TV, I think it's really filling a niche and giving people an opportunity to shine as well, which is great."
Special presentations like a show by a female Muslims comedian, who is a bold critic for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, are also presented by the channel.
"We have a lot of things in common. Whether you're an atheist, whether you're a Muslim, we have a lot of issues that we need to tackle, to address," Elmi said.
"And it's all about living in harmony and making sure that we are engaging and not being passive about what we do.
"We have to be more countering of all those issues in a very bold position and hopefully Roots TV is a platform for that."
For Aisha Novakovich, one of the hosts, her work at the channel aims to end false Muslim labeling "as either only moderate or radical".
"It's very topical. It's like it's the Muslim Nightly News, and we want to provide a counter narrative to what the dominant media is providing," Novakovich said.
"We want to have a platform where we can voice our own concerns, where we're empowered, where we're setting the terms of our narrative and we're discussing that discourse in a very respectful manner, but it certainly is counter to that dominant narrative being spouted by the media and politicians."
In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
The anti-Muslim sentiments further increased following recent anti-terror raids, deemed the biggest in Australian history, in which 15 people were arrested from north-western Sydney.
The raids were followed by a huge number of anti-Muslim attacks, including a mosque being defaced in Queensland and direct threats issued against the Grand Mufti of Australia.
Last month, dozens of Muslim community leaders and organizations have accused Prime Minister Tony Abbott of bullying the country’s most senior Islamic figure, in his attempts to silence opponents