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The extremists who just needed food on the table

The film festival HRHW: The Documentary Among the Believers shows how religious extremism has emerged in a Pakistan with major social problems.

Among the Believers
Directed by: Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi

We first meet them with potash covers, like gangsters, seen in sliding camera movements drawn from a low-budget action movie inspired by Martin Scorsese. A group of holy warriors, led by Abdul Aziz Ghazi, are recruiting young children (all the way down to the age of four) to strengthen their opposition to the Pakistani government. They want to introduce sharia laws in Pakistan and beyond into the global world, and are prepared to do so by violent means. In some schools (or so-called madrassa) in the capital, Islamabad, they get children to cram the Qur'an, dedicate themselves to the faith and prepare for religious agitation. In exchange, the children get food on the table, clothes, a roof to sleep under and cover health expenses.
Directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi create a relatively nuanced picture of this situation in the documentary Among the Believers (2015). Rather than being a mere condemnation of Ghazi's project, the film is a critical illumination of the social conditions that have made his progress possible.

Let the children come to me. Ghazi himself tells in the film, with a small smile on his face, that he fills a vacuum – the government fails to cover the citizens' basics. . .

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Teaches film studies at NTNU Email endreeid@gmail.com

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