updated 1/9/2007 9:08:22 PM ET 2007-01-10T02:08:22

The media buzz generated by the TV comedy "Little Mosque on the Prairie" has found its way into mosques across the country, with Muslim spiritual leaders urging their congregations to tune in.

While imams are actively encouraging the faithful to watch the CBC sitcom's debut Tuesday night, a prominent member of the community has raised concerns about the show's depiction of Muslims.

The comedy, about Muslims living in a small Canadian prairie town, has generated "high anticipation in the community," said Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

"There are a lot of imams going around (suggesting) people watch the first episode this evening," said Elmasry, who is also an imam. "I believe it's about time for Muslims to laugh at themselves — we are a latecomer into comedy."

The show, which has generated a flurry of interest largely because it's a comedy about Muslims that's set in a post-9/11 world, is not the type of fare a U.S. network would likely air, but Elmasry said he hopes there's a "spillover effect south of the border."

"I think they should learn from Canadians, that this is the best remedy to a high level of anxiety among American Muslims," said Elmasry, who concedes it's a "risky business" — even in Canada — to sell a Muslim comedy.

But at least one prominent Muslim community member said he has "some reservations about the depiction of Muslims as essentially a people whose lives revolve around a mosque."

"This is patently untrue," said Tarek Fatah, founder of the Toronto-based Muslim Canadian Congress.

Fatah said he fears the show will only serve to "pigeonhole Muslims as not more than a group that prays and preaches."

Both Elmasry and Fatah said they planned to watch the show, which premiered Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. EST, with their respective families.

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