Through the collaborative efforts between NYM Ink, the UofS MSA, and CMCO Muslim Chaplaincy, our Saskatoon community was able to bring “Muslims in Media”, an interactive workshop that challenged Islamophobia in mainstream media. In the words of Dilly Hussain, the importance of this event was to inform and educate Muslims on the reality of the mainstream media.
Leading up to the workshop, it seemed evident that many Muslims were already aware of this reality, which is blatant negativity regarding Islam and Muslims in both the left and right-leaning mainstream media. However, it was only after attending the workshop that a realization settled: Muslims are not truly aware of this reality because we have not been exposed to a systematic understanding of mainstream media and journalism. This was the goal of Muslims in Media: to present the inner workings of the media and its methodological approach in perpetuating Islamophobia through the lens of a journalist.
Many of the people who attended Muslims in Media in Saskatoon have had past interactions with media due to their positions either in the MSA or other Islamic organizations in Saskatoon. Therefore, the workshop was incredibly helpful in understanding how to analyze questions asked by journalists and which questions we should or should not answer. Furthermore, Muslims in Media provided a number of tips and tricks on how to handle media requests, build a friendly relationship with our local media stations, and how to interpret a situation based on things we tend to overlook like body language, tone, and more.
Throughout the workshop, Dilly Hussain encouraged Muslim students on campus to expand our knowledge of different topics through various political lenses and to take interest in writing. In fact, this workshop prompted an MSA sister, Wardan A, to write an article for the University newspaper about the event itself. Fiza B, another attendee, later reflected on the event: “at first, I thought being a Muslim writer wouldn’t make a huge difference in a world that is relentless to wrestle Islam into the shadows. Muslims in the Media gave me hope for what I can do with writing and it encouraged me to develop the skill consistently.” The students who attended the workshop left with a level of excitement and encouragement from Dilly Hussain to develop their writing skills and take up journalism as a hobby.
Dilly Hussain also touched on the need to connect ourselves with the teaching of our Quran and Sunnah. At times, Muslims in journalism and media tend to speak without knowledge of the religion which leads to the tokenization of Islamic values, such as the hijab. Some Muslims have taken this fundamental principle of hayaa and reduced it to a simple conversation about a piece of cloth. This was one of the many lessons we needed to hear and what was even more important was that these lessons came from a journalist.
Mainstream media continually shapes the ideologies of people, governments, and legislations. Interactive workshops such as Muslims in Media are important in learning the relationship Muslims should have with the media so that we do not become passive Muslims but so that we also have the adequate tools to represent Islam in the best manner.
The UofS MSA would like to thank the CMCO Muslim Chaplaincy and NYM ink for providing the Saskatoon community with such an amazing opportunity to learn from world renowned journalist Dilly Hussain. Muslims in Media changed our perspective on the responsibility of Muslims to be critical, aware, and confident when encountering the mainstream media.
Article by Iqra Khan.