Point Loma Nazarene University
Contact: Nicholle Jaramillo
Point TV: Channel 23 Marketing & Promotions Mgr.
Advisor: Alan Hueth (619) 849-2358
Date: May 13, 2011
Written by: Nicholle Jaramillo
PLNU STUDENTS PRODUCE DOCUMENTARY
ON SHARIA LAW IN LONDON, ENGLAND
Sharia law…Sharia what? To some, the word has little meaning or significance. However to the 2,869,000 Muslims living in the United Kingdom, as reported by the Pew Research Center in 2010, this code of conduct and Islamic religious law means everything. During a study abroad trip to London, England, two PLNU students produced a documentary that explored the subject head on.
Every other year, PLNU’s Communication and Theatre department offers a study abroad program in London, England. Media communication majors Andrew Norbeck and Harris Smith were two among the pack. Prior to the trip, the men were approached by professor Alan Hueth about making a documentary for their media literacy class’ final project.
“Hueth gave us the idea about Sharia law, I thought it was really cool and knew a little about it,” said Norbeck. “I said ‘yeah let’s do it’…I didn’t know what I was getting into.”
Sharia Law is the religious law of Islam, and comes from their holy book which is called the Qur'an. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is Allah’s (God’s) words to all people on earth, and was delivered to us through the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The law addresses a variety of topics including crime, politics, economics, sexuality, prayer and more.
Although the documentary was shot in London last fall, 2010, Norbeck was inspired the summer before during a mission trip abroad in Tanzania. Following a soccer game with locals, Norbeck was approached by a goalie of Muslim faith.
“After the game we were talking and he was bashing on me and on America because he is Islamic and viewed Americans in the blackest light because of 9/11,” said Norbeck. “It sparked more interest, and I was more stoked to start studying and start researching the topic.”
While abroad in London, the two kept in touch with Hueth who served as executive producer on the project. By use of Skype, drop box and various other technologies, the group was able to toss ideas and suggestions around. They decided that they wanted to take an objective look at the subject, so Dr. Hueth connected them with two Christian experts on Islam in London: Leslie Griffths, a Methodist pastor and House of Lords Life Peer Leader, and Jay Smith, a Muslim scholar and Christian evangelist. They also contacted and interviewed several Muslim Sharia council leaders in London.
“I really enjoyed sitting down, talking with and interviewing subjects while shooting b-roll at mosques without fear in their area,” said Smith.
Filming was not always smooth sailing. From script writing to filming footage of local Muslims, the process was a challenge. However, the largest issue they faced was finding an unbiased point of view. Griffith’s and Jay Smith’s perspectives were polar-opposites in some ways. Griffith had a liberal, more tolerant view of Islam and Sharia law, while Smith held a much more conservative and cautious view on the subject.
The result was a ten-minute documentary entitled Creeping Sharia, Ridding the Fear by Stating the Facts. The documentary depicts these colliding perspectives, and ends with one fact which both experts could agree to: Sharia laws concerning women are unjust from a western-democracy perspective. They treat women as second-class citizens, and western societies should stand against this aspect of Sharia-law being practiced in western democratic societies. The two made it a point to express this, while also showing how Sharia law is gaining an ever-increasing presence in London.
Creeping Sharia, Ridding the Fear by Stating the Facts was shown at PLNU’s Film Festival on May 5th and won an award for outstanding production in documentary
For more information on the film and where you can see it please contact Andrew Norbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org, Harris Smith at email@example.com, or Dr. Alan Hueth at AlanHueth@pointloma.edu.