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article imageShameless: young TV actor criticised for mocking Islam

By Mathew Wace Peck     Jan 10, 2011 in Entertainment
Qasim Akhtar, one of the teenage actors in the Channel 4 drama series Shameless, has been accused of making a mockery of Islam.
The 18-year-old returns to British TV screens this evening, playing Chesney Karib, in the first of a new 22-part series of the Channel 4 drama.
Akhtar – who joined the series in 2007 and whose character is often seen on screen having sex, drinking alcohol and taking all manner of other drugs – says some members of his religion have accused him of mocking Islam. However, he insists that despite his character’s antics, he himself remains true to his faith.
Speaking to Sun TVbiz ahead of the new series, Akhtar said: “I have had it from people in the street. They are trying to say that it isn’t right to be promoting that sort of behaviour. They believe it is making a mockery by showing Muslims doing certain things on Shameless [. . .] Chesney doesn't give a s*** about religion as he drinks, smokes weed and parties with birds.”
The actor said his family have no problem with the part he plays in the drama, and that it’s not the way he acts. He said, “I do drink, but I don’t abuse it. Fair enough, it is against Islam, but it is the way I have been brought up. It is about will power. I don't discuss drinking with my parents. I have got a girlfriend and there is nothing wrong with that - it is not against the religion.”
Akhtar also said that the criticism didn’t bother him. “Why would I change what I am doing because some strangers don’t like it? I reckon people say it out of jealousy nowadays. That is the community I live in.”
Season eight of Shameless – which stars David Threlfall as Frank Gallagher – begins tonight, 10 January, at 10 p.m. British time, on Channel 4. The first five episodes are being shown over consecutive nights all this week, with the rest of the series continuing weekly from Tuesday, 18 January.
Meanwhile, the first series of the US remake of Shameless – starring William H Macy in the Frank Gallgher role – began on Showtime last night.
More about Shameless, Qasim akhtar, Channel, Showtime, Sun
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