TIARA SALVABILLA WRITES – Alchemiya, the so-called “Netflix for Muslims,” is making a play for Asia.
The video on demand (VOD) service is known for shedding positive light on Muslims and Muslim culture. Since its launch in 2014 it has gained thousands of users from 10 different countries and is planning to expand now to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. One of Southeast Asia’s largest mobile operators, Axiata, has formally agreed to bring Alchemiya on its mobile phone platforms in these countries.
The platform focuses on spreading positive content about Muslim culture as a repsonse to the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes and movements today. In Britain, where the channel is based, Alchemiya tries to combat anti-Muslim sentiments that are present at a governmental level. However, their outlet steers clear from political controversy. Alchemiya is only endorsing films and documentaries from writers, poets, musicians, and other artists who do not implement political ideas into their work. The content ranges from cooking to travel. On its website, the company claims, “There is a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding about our faith. It is our intention to create content that breaks down negative stereotypes and makes people reconsider their views.”
In Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, Alchemiya has a lot of potential and promise for its expansion. In Indonesia, most of the television channels only broadcast news, infotainment, or soap operas, which are the furthest thing from educational. Many programs also do not properly reflect Muslim culture.
Currently, large media groups in Indonesia, such as Kompas, have received backlash from the Muslim majority, who accuse the media of frequently biasing news coverage in favor of non-Muslims. On the other hand, available media platforms about Muslims and Muslim culture in Indonesia, such as Eramuslim, only provide content that critics say favors Muslim culture and discriminates against anything that opposes it. With this in mind, the majority population will likely welcome Alchemiya’s positive portrayals of Muslim culture with open arms.