SYDNEY (AFP) - Islamic leaders in Australia say they are backing a Muslim alternative to Peppa Pig but not because they think the popular cartoon series corrupts children, as reports have suggested.
Sydney production company One4Kids is campaigning to fund a show loosely based on the British children's series, telling the story of the Abdullah family and their life in a small town with a predominantly Muslim population and an imam as the key role model.
The head of the Australian National Imams Council, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, backed the "Barakah Hills" project in a Facebook video message, saying it was something Muslim children would benefit from rather than be "impacted negatively".
But he denied controversial comments attributed to him in The Australian newspaper that Peppa Pig "corrupts Muslim children".
In a statement, he blamed "an insatiable appetite by some media outlets to misrepresent and embellish the reality for sensationalist propaganda purposes".
He said he endorsed the concept of producing religious alternatives but that children should not be stopped from watching other cartoons.
One4Kids founder Subhi Alshaik said some reports had "spread the wrong message" about the proposal.
"It has now just blown out of proportion and it's now like we're saying 'stop watching Peppa Pig, it's bad for you'," he told SBS television late Thursday.
"No. I actually watch it myself. My kids, when we're together, whack it on and we enjoy it. We have a laugh. And I think as a producer 'what's attracting the kids to it?' and I'm always looking to produce something new.
"So I thought, we need a show for the Muslim community."
The show will be aimed at an online subscriber-based audience and a crowdfunding campaign for the first two episodes has so far raised more than A$5,000 of the A$20,000 needed.