SCHOLAR vs JOURNALIST – Avoid Tripping Over Live Wires

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s interview with Mehdi Hasan at the Revival of the Islamic Spirit (RIS) convention in Toronto on December 23, 2016 ignited an unprecedented controversy. I suspect the fallout from his interview will have a negative impact on an already tenuous relationship between Muslims and the media. Before we move on from this hiccup on our collective radar, I believe there are some important take-away lessons, particularly for anyone courageous enough to agree to an interview.  

The Muslims I know don’t trust the mainstream media and will run as far away as possible from investigative reporters. Those who can speak intelligently are few in numbers. From experience I can say that imams and community leaders in Toronto are not interested in attending training courses, even cheap ones organized and taught by qualified Muslim journalists.

In a paper I wrote for the Tabah Foundation in February 2011, I argued that when it comes to the mass media, our community is stuck in “flak attack” mode. In other words, the media is a sworn enemy of Muslims, and rather than engaging with the media, we attack it.     Continue reading