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West of MeccaRTÉ One, Monday 11.40pm

Episode Five

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This week we meet Mohammad Jawad and Arnela Hadzisulejmanovic, who live in Sweden.

Mohammad Jawad is a former PLO soldier whom war and love sent to Piteå in Sweden.  He has been living there for more than 20 years now, and is a well known representative for the Left party in the local parliament, and also a founder of the first mosque in the town.  Mohammed was born in a Palestinian village, from which his family had to flee when Israel occupied it in 1948. He grew up on the West Bank and entered al-Fatah at an early age. He fought many years for Palestine until he was severely injured at the end of the 1970s.  He was then sent to Moscow to study.  In Moscow, Mohammad met Swedish Karina and at the age of 30 his life was about to change. He followed Karina to Sweden where he decided to start a new life.  In West of Mecca Mohammad looks back on his past and reflects on how Islam has become such an important part of his life.

We also meet 25-year-old Arnela Hadzisulejmanovic, a sports student and winner of the bronze medal in World Championship 2007 of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  Arnela was born in Bosnia.  Her family had to flee from the war in Bosnia and Arnela was 11-years-old when she came to Sweden. Despite her young age she started to search for her "own" God.  After thorough studies of religion, she realised that Islam was the right choice for her.   Arnela follows the rules of the Koran, but sometimes they interfere with her ambitions to be the World Champion of Brazilian  jiu-jitsu, as she explains,
"Once I knew more about Islam, I wondered if I could train with men. It felt natural before, until I heard peoples' comments and I began to read more.  It hit me like a brick.  It is not right, it could go wrong.  But I have I decided to trust in myself, and God knows the way I think.  Therefore I have decided to continue."

West of Mecca is a co-production with the European Broadcasting Union

 Sheikh Shaheed Satardien
Arnela Hadzisulejmanovic
West of Mecca
Mohammad Jawad