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Hackney resident sets up project to challenge stereotypes of British Pakistanis

Shazia Ali-Webber (red top) and pupils from the three sixth form colleges who took part in a project to challenge stereotypes of British Pakistanis Shazia Ali-Webber (red top) and pupils from the three sixth form colleges who took part in a project to challenge stereotypes of British Pakistanis

Sunday, December 29, 2013
1:00 PM

» Often referred to as a failed state on the brink of collapse and a breeding ground for terrorists, Pakistan does not enjoy the good reputation that neighbour India has, despite similar food and culture.

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Here in the UK, the Pakistani diaspora regularly comes under attack from some politicians and parts of the media.

It is for this reason that Hackney resident Shazia Ali-Webber set up a pilot project asking sixth form students of Pakistani origin to make short films about their lives.

The result was seven short films which were screened at the Rich Mix centre in Shoreditch last month.

Lawyer Mrs Ali-Webber, 38, of Sharon Gardens, Victoria Park, said: “There’s so much negative media coverage of Pakistan and Pakistanis.

‘Identity’

“I set up the project as I thought young Pakistanis should be given a right of reply.

“They produced 10-minute films about being ordinary British Pakistanis.

“There’s no crisis of identity among British Pakistanis. They are very proud and confident in their dual heritage. It was very eye-opening.”

Her project was inspired by a similar one run by the Royal Society of Arts and online magazine The Samosa in 2011.

The Pakistan Calling project aimed to increase awareness and support for Pakistani civil society organisations, and activists, working to tackle the country’s social problems.

“I got involved in Pakistan Calling and thought it would be good to do something with British Pakistanis talking about their ordinary lives”, Mrs Ali-Webber said.

“I invited three sixth form colleges from Luton, Leyton and Newham to take part.

“It’s a good age as they understand politics a bit better. Most of them were media students.”

‘Archive’

Mrs Ali-Webber will roll out the project nationally with a film screening at the same time next year.

She said: “Generationally things have changed.

“It would be wonderful to create an archive of films of how this generation is feeling and that would create a record of heritage and how identity in immigrants changes and evolves.”

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