The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

American Arab media gets nod from PEW Research Center

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American Arab media gets nod from PEW Research Center

Chicago, Il/NAAJA – The PEW research Center through its Project for Excellence in Journalism releases a detailed overview of the successes and challenges of the American Arab news media at the end of November.

The overview is one of the first of its kind by a major mainstream American media center and it showcased several successful Arab media and the challenges American Arab media face.

The National American Arab Journalists Association, which monitors American Arab media, applauded the PEW Research Center and urged them to do more.

“One of the big challenges facing American Arab media is that they are ignored and marginalized through this intentionally act of exclusion by major news media and that only selected sources that are ‘politically correct’ or correlate with political opinions are addressed,” said NAAJA national coordinator Ray Hanania.

“Marginalization and exclusion are the means in which minority groups are often excluded from mainstream participation. It mutes the voices of American Arabs and minimizes their significance. The PEW Research Center’s work is important because it puts a spotlight on the American Arab news media which continues to grow.”

Hanania said that growth is particularly significant because of the set-backs caused by post-Sept. 11 hate and discrimination backlash that occurred. Many American Arab newspapers closed permanently and some temporarily in the wake of the attacks which provoked a widespread wave of discrimination against anyone who looked or appeared to be ‘Arab’ or ‘Middle Eastern’ in this country.

“If you are excluded from the American table, you don’t exist in this country. That creates a particularly difficult circumstance for American Arabs who exist in a dual and contradictory states. The only time American Arabs are ‘seen’ by the mainstream public and media is when they are being attacked and vilified as terrorists. When we are not being vilified, we are being ignored. That reinforces stereotypes and hatred,” Hanania said.

“What PEW has done is help pull the curtain away from these discriminatory practices which are accepted as being ‘normal’ and often ignored as being part of the larger picture of racial and ethnic discrimination that exists in America. Arabs are American and we are a major part of this country. Our community media is a significant showcase for who we are. If you ignore our community media, it is an effort to ignore and marginalize the larger community.”

The PEW Research Center study, completed on Nov. 28, 2012, is available on the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s web site at

“The study is just the tip of the iceberg. More research needs to be done. It’s only shortcoming was its failure to look at the bigger picture of American Arab media,” Hanania said.

“While it captured some important facts about the community, it missed a lot.”

The study identified several or the nearly 100 American Arab print publications including several weekly newspapers like Aramica and the Beirut Times, which are considered the most significant voices of the American Arab community.

It also identified Radio Baladi and Good Morning Michigan, hosted by Laila alHussini in Detroit as being among the pre-eminent American Arab radio programs broadcast in the country.

“There are many American Arab newspapers, some publishing weekly but most publishing bi-monthly or monthly that are very important to our community,’ Hanania said. “And while there are only a handful of radio shows and a few cable TV shows, more needs to be done to showcase and augment their hard work.”

Hanania said NAAJA has worked hard to bring American Arab media together to not only strengthen the voice of American Arabs but also to strengthen the American Arab community media.

“An ethnic community is only as strong as its community media,” Hanania said. “When the mainstream society and Americans recognize the American Arab media fully and with understanding, they will be better able to understand the American Arabs who live and work among them in American society.”

A lot of the success of the American Arab media is dependent on the support of many sponsors and advertisers. The majority of the Advertisers and sponsors are of American Arab origin – such as the Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz in Detroit and Ziyad Brothers Importing in Chicago. American businesses might advertise more if they better understood the power this media offers in terms of marketing and information.

“The Arab World and the Middle East consume a lot of our attention as Americans. Our fuel and oil is closely tied to the Middle East. The entire world of terrorism and violence is directly linked to the Middle East. You would think that Americans would want to better understand the Middle East in order to better address all of these concerns,” Hanania concluded.

“Americans have a long way to go to better understand the Arabs and the Middle East and they need more factual and complete information in order to do that. The PEW study is a step forward in that direction.”


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Critics unfair to New York Post photographer

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Critics unfair to New York Post photographer

R. Umar Abbasi captured a photo of a man seconds before he was struck and killed by a subway train in New York on Dec. 3, 2012. Abbasi, who is described as a "freelance photographer," said he heard the gasps of people on the train platform when the victim, Ki-suck Han, was apparently pushed onto the track during a scuffle with another individual as the train approached the station.

Abbasi's photo shows the man with his arm on the ledge as the train approaches only a few yards away. Han was immediately killed.

Immediately, the critics came out of the woodwork to attack Abbasi because he snapped the photo. They claimed he should have run up to the man and helped pull him out of the way of the train.

But when you look at the photo, you see that Abbasi was further from the man than the train.

Abbasi claimed he took the picture to fire the flash to warn the train conductor, but that sounds more like the excuse of someone who is being pilloried and the criticism must certainly be painful, because a man lost his life.

I really doubt he shot the pictures to flash the light to warn the conductor, although maybe that was a hope he may have held as the drama unfolded before his lens.

Still, even though he might be bending to the huge international criticism and pressure of critics to make that claim, the truth is there was nothing Abbasi could do. His job is to record events in the lives on human beings. Photographers have joined the military in wars snapping pictures as the enemy and our soldiers were killed.

Of course, we don't mind showing the corpses of the enemy who have been killed but we suddenly find a moral thread when the victims are our soldiers.

That's the kind of hate that has permeated today's America. It's a country built on racism and now fueled by political hatred. Our hatred allows us to attack people not based on what they have or have not done, but rather based on who they are or where they are from.

I suspect a part of the hatred against Abbasi is because he has an Arab and Muslim name. I don't know him and he may not be Arab but the name is a very common Arab and Muslim name. In today's America, facts do not matter. Most Americans couldn't tell the difference between a Mexican or a Palestinians. We both look the same. Americans are the most educated people on the planet but the least educated about the people who live on this planet. They make judgments and stereotypes and there is no doubt in my mind that people who have read this story have concluded that Abbasi is "one of them." A Muslim. An Arab. 

So it doesn't really matter of Abbasi is an Arab or a Muslim. What matters is that most people believe he is. That is how justice is achieved in today's America. American justice is not only blind these days, it is stupid, uneducated and unfactual.

Regardless, though, Abbasi did nothing wrong. I believe that if he were close enough to the many, standing right next to him, he would have reached down to help lift him out of the way of the train. He would have become a hero. Although because he is or is perceived to be an Arab or a Muslim, he wouldn't have been given a heroes' welcome or praise for his actions. Arabs and Muslims only get attention when something is wrong. We're not seen as heroes but rather as terrorists or potential terrorists.

I salute Abbasi for his photograph. It is the most important thing that remains of the victim, Han. It depicts his last moments of life before he was struck and killed.

When I was a young reporter, I would cover tragedies like home fires that took the lives of people including children. The hardest thing would be to go up to the relatives of the people who were killed and asked them for their comments. It seemed so insensitive to do so considering they were in the midst of grieving for their loss. But I would always explain that the story I write might be the only story ever written about your child, husband or wife. When time passes in weeks and months, you will cling to this story as your last connection to the deceased. I wanted to make that story the best I could not only to report the facts but to insure the family had something left that they could cling to to reinforce our frail and fading memories as human beings.

-- Ray Hanania

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Consequences of hate speech, not for everyone

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Consequences of hate speech, not for everyone
By Ray Hanania

The tragic killings of four Americans during protests in Libya including the American Ambassador to Benghazi, Christopher Stevens, has over-shadowed a major aspect of the role hate plays in provoking communities to hate.

The Stevens killing was a tragic exception to the rule involving protests that are sweeping the Arab and Muslim World against America’s hypocritical standards when it comes to hate speech.

An American extremist originally thought to be an Israeli American produced a movie which defames in the most offensive manner Arabs, Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Muhammed.

To Arabs and Muslims, the film was no different than a man standing up in a crowded theater and yelling “fire,” but then also blaming the “fire” on a specific religious or ethnic group.

While Americans have expressed unbounded criticism of the murders of Stevens and the three other Americans, the initial criticism of the promoter of the hate video was tempered by arguments that “people in American enjoy the right of free speech” and “free speech is a corner stone of Democracy.”

That changed days later when it was determined that the man, who claimed to be Israeli American Sam Bacile, has been identified as an outspoken anti-Muslim Coptic Christian, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Immediately, police set upon Nakoula and determined that he had outstanding criminal warrants.

For those who argue that as disgusting as Nakoula’s anti-Islamic and anti-Arab video is, it is protected by free speech and American society is powerless to take any actions, I would remind them about the vicious campaign orchestrated by pro-Israel groups and activists against Helen Thomas in 2010.

Critics charged that Thomas, an award winning veteran journalist and the first female White House correspondent, had engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech when she flippantly responded to questions posed in an ambush by a notoriously racist anti-Arab supporter of Israel.

In fact, the Anti-Defamation League, which selectively fights instances of bigotry and hatred, issued a statement that gave the Society of Professional Journalists, the national organization of mainstream American media, the mandate to act on Thomas, one of the SPJ’s veteran and honored members.

The SPJ had created a Life Time Achievement Award in her name that was awarded to a long list of prestigious journalists.

But the ADL coordinated with the SPJ’s newly elected Israeli American president and a national SPJ board that had become increasing hostile to American Arab SPJ members and that same year terminated its then young program to give American Arab members of the SPJ a voice to raise issues concerning imbalanced media coverage.

The ADL spearheaded the assault on Thomas and issued this statement on January 10, 2010 to give the SPJ’s board cover for their political move to censor Thomas and punish anyone who dared to question media bias in favor of Israel, a foreign country:

“Fortunately, there are consequences in our society for those in positions of power or authority who publicly express racist, anti-Semitic or prejudiced views.  We are pleased that the executive committee of the SPJ agrees that this award was no longer appropriate given the unprofessional and unbecoming conduct of its namesake.”

If you dispute that the ADL’s role was merely as an observer, it’s worth noting that the ADL statement denouncing Thomas came one year before the SPJ national board under its Israeli American presidency terminated the Helen Thomas Life Time Achievement Award, Jan. 14, 2011.

What are the consequences of anti-Arab and anti-Islamic hate speech? Statements by American politicians defending the rights of the haters included a declaration by Republican Candidate Mitt Romney attacking President Barack Obama for bowing to Arab and Muslim extremism.

The Egyptian embassy statement read, “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims, as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

Romney said that a statement issued by a low-level Administration aid from the Egyptian embassy expressing regret for the hatred expressed in the video was a “surrender” to our enemies and an apology for “American values.”

Yes, when someone criticizes Israel, they become anti-American Nazi anti-Semites.

When someone criticizes Arabs and Muslims, or even denounces hatred against Arabs and Muslims, they are ridiculed as contradicting American values of free speech.

Maybe that’s why this year the ADL has been invited by the SPJ’s  increasingly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim national board to be a sponsor of this year’s journalism convention which takes place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sept. 20.

Maybe someone should make a video about that. But God Forbid that we might protest, being Arab and Muslim and all.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning journalist who ended his more than 30 year long SPJ association by tearing up his membership card. Reach him at

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

American Syrians hosting fundraisers Sept 14-16 in Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland

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American Syrians hosting fundraisers Sept 14-16 in Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Ray Hanania
Sept. 5, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

American Syrian Community Rallies for the People of Syria
Mural reminiscent of Spanish Civil War to be displayed

American Syrian activists will host three fundraisers on behalf of the people of Syria to help cover medical costs.

The fundraisers will be held in Detroit on Sept. 14, Chicago on Sept. 15 and Cleveland on Sept. 16, and are sponsored by the Syrian American Medical Society and the Syrian Sunrise Foundation.

In addition to speakers from Syria, a key feature at the fundraisers will be a mural painted by renown French artist Roger Dale in the tradition of the famous effort by the late Pablo Picasso’s mural, Guernica, which was painted and used as a rallying cry for Spanish independence during the Spanish War in 1937.

“We are taking an important page from the history of people standing up for freedom in holding these fundraisers,” explained Dr. Malaz Alatassi, one of the fundraising coordinators.

“In 1937, Picasso painted a famous mural that was displayed at the International Fair held that year in Paris, France and that mural helped awaken the world to the plight of the oppressed people of Spain. We expect hundreds of people to attend the fundraisers in each of the three cities, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, and to be inspired by this effort to parallel history.”

Picasso was commissioned by the Spanish Republican Government to create the painting memorializing Guernica, a city in the Basque region of Spain that had come under attacked earlier that year by Nazi Germany and Italian forces.

The “Guernica” mural became a symbol of protest against oppression and fascism and helped to rally world support against the Nazis and in support of freedom for the people of Spain. It was displayed at the 1937 World Exposition in Paris.

The Picasso mural brought the plight of the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention.

This year, world renown French Artist Roger Dale will strive to do the same with a mural he has painted in support of the people of Syria and the Syrian pro-Democracy movement.

“Thousands of civilians are being injured and killed by Syrian military forces and the civil war in Syria reminds us of the civil war in Spain and the rallying of support for human rights it provoked around the world,” Alatassi said.

The Dale mural has been named “Homs 2012” and measure 351 x 780 cm. Dale and his students displayed the mural in Strasbourg and then later in Paris. Dale has promised that the painting will be permanently placed in Homs at the Clock Square once Syria is freed.

The Detroit Fundraiser will be held  Friday  Sept. 14 at the Auburn Hills Marriott, 3600 Centerpoint Parkway, Pontiac, Michigan.
For Detroit Tickets Contact:
Raya Rass at 248-824-0442
Malaz Alatassi, 248-953-0526
Hanadi Alatassi, 248-953-0899
Heba Dlewati, 810-410-5590

The Chicago Fundraiser will be held Saturday Sept. 15 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center Hotel, 70 Yorktown Center, Lombard, Illinois.
For Chicago tickets, contact:
312-758-3995 or by email at

The Cleveland Fundraiser will be held Sunday Sept. 16, and the location will be announced very soon.
The contact there is Dr. Ihsan Mamoun

For more information online, visit:  or


Friday, July 20, 2012

White Terrorist James Holmes -- what, no demonization of "his" people?

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You can bet your last Falafel that if James Holmes were Abdullah Arak, or some Middle Easterner, the United States would be on the brink of racist chaos and the media would be stoke the flames of hatred using its worthless newsprint.

But James Holmes, 24, is a White Man who walked into a movie theater featuring one of the most recent violent movies to hit the big screen, and he was carrying a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, along with a few other incendiary devices. He was wearing a mask and bullet-proof vest.

Yes, a White dud in a bullet proof vest with his arms full of weapons won't raise an eyebrow or cause anyone to wonder or ask, "What is that guy up to?"

But put a Black kid in a hoodie and a neighborhood watch activist with a jittery gun can shoot him dead. And it will take a month before anyone figures that maybe, just maybe, George Zimmerman should be arrested and the crime properly and fully investigated.

Welcome to America, the land of the free ability to stereotype and pre-judge people based on their skin color, the exotic clothing they might wear and their religious beliefs.

The murder of 12 innocent movie-goers and the wounding of 72 others is a horrendous tragedy. But it is also a tragedy that it occurred in the middle of a national debate about how a crazy Tea Party Congressman, Michele Bachmann, can denounce a woman who is a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because of that aide's religion. The controversy surrounding Huma Abedin was knocked right out of the headlines by James Holmes, a person who surely will be labeled a "lone gunman," an adjective phrase used mainly to describe non-Arabs who commit horrific acts of violence.

It's not the worst act of mass murder in America. That was and is Sept. 11, 2001 and the killing of nearly 3,000 people that day by 19 religious extremists with a political agenda who happen to be Muslim. But the massacre at the Aurora, Colorado theater sure comes close to being one of the worst individual acts of killing we've seen in a long time.

There will be the obligatory flame war of words over gun control. And some will talk about the need to increase security. But no one will say that people of Holmes' age -- he was only 24 -- should be rounded up and profiled in order to prevent this kind of mass murder from happening again. They won't call for White males who might be collecting guns and other weapons to be rounded up and investigated and monitored. Although, maybe they should!

Holmes was a brilliant student, his friends testified to frenzied reporters who converged on the town just outside of Denver. Imagine saying that Mohammed Ata, the lead hijacker int he Sept. 11, 2001 was a brilliant man. Watch out!

Arab terrorist can never be described in any positive way. But White murderers can be excused because, well, they acted alone. Alone in the physical context. But what about the crowded world of hysteria that dominates our political environment, where hate passes off for debate and stereotyping is considered evidence?

Don't hold your breath for a badly needed public discussion on this topic.

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, July 09, 2012

Why mainstream news media keeps American Arabs out of the system

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Tragically, most American Arab journalists are so under siege or have been intimidated and bullied because of their Arab heritage that they are gun shy about  defending the idea of increasing American Arab presence in the mainstream American media.

We know that many American Arabs are excluded from mainstream American media jobs. But when they are, they are targeted and even bullied to discourage them from addressing issues related to being Arab or the Middle East.

Every other ethnic and racial group is encouraged to address and cover their own heritage on the premise that ethnic and racial minorities in journalism can bring an experience that mainstream journalists do not have and therefore offer insight into issues involving race and ethnicity.

But that's only for the "accepted" minorities in mainstream journalism, which are African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American, the four core members of UNITY: Journalists of Color. Although the Black journalists have broken from UNITY, it is over power and funding, not representation or diversity among the minority institutions.

The truth is, minority groups that have power do everything they can to prevent other minority groups from sharing that power. There are only a limited number of seats set aside for minority groups and those minority groups at the "table" do more to prevent other minority groups from sharing in their seats than they do advocating for more minority voices.

That's why the National American Arab Journalists Association is so important to American Arab journalists. Because no other minority group is so ostracized from the mainstream news media than American Arabs. They are the number one targeted ethnic group when it comes to news media discrimination, bias and exclusion.

The mainstream news media is biased against minorities. It is a White-driven institution. The media has its hands full dealing with minority groups that are already around the table, like Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. It's their token way of saying. "Hey, we are addressing the issue of diversity."

But their "diversity" practices are limited diversity. Diversity is narrowly defined to keep unwanted minority groups out, like American Arabs.

Why? They know that being at the media table gives minorities a voice and a say in how the mainstream news media covers major stories.

For example, if American Arabs have a seat at the table -- and they were not intentionally excluded by UNITY and the mainstream news media -- the news media would be going crazy with coverage of the story of the death of two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anthony Shadid. Shadid died on Feb. 16, 2012, everyone was told, because he had an asthma attack while secretly entering Syria to cover the conflict there. But, it turns out, the New York Times where he worked, did a poor job of preparing his entrance into Syria, where Shadid was a wanted man. Before he died, Shadid told his wife that if he died, she should blame the New York Times. (Click to read more. Click to hear radio podcast on topic.)

Here's an example of how being a part of the media can influence the media and why the mainstream media takes this entire issue so seriously, not from the standpoint of doing something about it but from the standpoint of their energetic refusal to keep American Arabs out of news media ranks.

Politico was forced to hire an African American, Joe Williams, two years ago to respond to charges that Politico lacked diversity. But recently, when Joe Williams made some critical comments of Mitt Romney, he was fired. The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) which was a part of UNITY and has backed policies excluding American Arabs from joining UNITY as equal partners, attacked Politico and questioned their journalism ethics. Politico is in a dilemma today. (Click to read the story.)

Apparently, diversity is only important in the news media when it involves Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. 

That's why American Arabs need a professional journalism organization like NAAJA. NAAJA can be their voice to put a spotlight on the absence of diversity in the news media. NAAJA can be the platform from which demands to investigate the circumstances of Anthony Shadid's death can be made. NAAJA is the empowerment of American Arabs.

That's why the Society of Professional Journalists worked so hard to eliminate the voices of American Arabs in their ranks. They didn't want American Arabs to have a voice. Their leadership, which consisted of anti-Arab haters and biased, compromised presidents with self-serving political agendas, worked hard to destroy the American Arab presence at the SPJ a few years back.

American Arabs can't rely on UNITY or SPJ to defend our rights or fight for justice. We have to do it ourselves.

-- Ray Hanania

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Controversy over Anthony Shadid's death

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Anthony Shadid's cousin Edward. a doctor from Oklahoma, where Shadid was from, was speaking at the ADC Convention dinner June 24 when he revealed some inside information about Anthony Shadid's death that the New York Times has been keeping secret and hoping no one would explore.

Shadid, a brilliant journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (and good friend and supporter of American Arab journalism) died Feb. 16, 2012 while crossing into Syria through some rugged mountains. Apparently, Syria had Shadid listed as a Wanted Person in newspapers and on TV there, according to the cousin.

But what is amazing, is that story that Edward Shadid told at the convention got so little traction, making many American Arabs wonder about how serious the ineffectiveness factor is in our community. ADC Legal Director Abed Ayoub protested to the New York Times after Edward Shadid's remarks, but the New York Times just brushed that protest aside.

Nothing in the community whatsoever. Word was distributed by one of the extremists who insinuate themselves among the many American Arabs who attend and who are concerned about the challenges we face in this country but that apparently no organization, from ADC to AAI to long lost groups like the AAUG, NAAA and others, have and continued to fail to overcome.

In it, Edward Shadid claimed that Anthony Shadid called his wife, Nada Bakri, and said after a heated fight with his editors about going into Syria, "I want the world to know that the New York Times Killed me."

Anthony Shadid's widow, Nada Bakri, released this Tweet days later after the cousin's speech aroused some concern. She's an employee of the New York Times, too.

#AnthonyShadid "I do not approve of and will not be a part of any public discussion of Anthony's passing. It does nothing but sadden Anthony's children to have to endure repeated public discussion of the circumstances of their father's death."   (Click here for link)

So here is the video from the ADC convention. Start watching at 5 minutes into it. 

You decide. But it seems the New York Times newspaper which spends so much time, resources and money to expose every scandal and accusation made about everyone else in this world, should address this in more than just a paragraph press release issued by a flak from their PR department. 

Pathetic both for the American Arab community reflecting how ineffective and worthless their leaders really are, and the mainstream American news media in this country that is so biased, worse than the corruption politicians, mobsters and street gang members, too.

Ray Hanania
trending #JournalismDemise

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HBO's Newsroom to feature Arab Actor playing reporter covering Arab Spring

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HBO's Newsroom to feature Arab Actor playing reporter covering Arab Spring

FROM THE ARAB SPRING TO THE SORKIN SUMMER Sorkin writes Hollywood’s first portrayal of the Arab Spring on HBO’s The Newsroom

(Los Angeles, June 11, 2012) Last year’s revolution in Egypt inspired people across the world -- including the mind of Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin.  His highly anticipated new show, The Newsroom (premiering June 24 on HBO) will include Hollywood’s first depiction of the Arab Spring.

The mid-season plot will follow the revolution with the help of real life Egyptian-American actor Amin El Gamal, a rising star who guests on the show.  El Gamal plays an amateur reporter that wins the hearts of the newsroom staff (played by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Dev Patel) and becomes their rogue correspondent.

“The revolution had a profound effect on my family and me.” El Gamal said.  “And I was thrilled to play an Arab man who’s not associated with violence and hate.  I felt a responsibility to properly represent the incredible people who finally got a voice during those 18 days in Tahrir Square.”

That responsibility lead El Gamal to collaborate with Sorkin on some of the character details.

“My character originally had a Swahili name, which didn’t make much sense for an Egyptian.” El Gamal said.  “I was terrified to bring it up -- Aaron Sorkin being as brilliant as he is -- but I felt I owed it to the brave Egyptians whose story we were telling.”

Sorkin was open to the change and asked El Gamal to email him a list of common Egyptian names.  Just two days before shooting, El Gamal was Fed-Exed new pages with a new, more accurate name.

“I hope my episode reaches some brown kid with a similarly weird name, who’s struggling with his or her identity, like I was.”  El Gamal said. “And I hope it empowers him or her to be the best they can be.”


Amin El Gamal is an actor who was born (during an earthquake) and raised in Palo Alto, CA.  Amin is a first generation Egyptian-American (his last name means “The Camel” in Arabic) and a graduate of Stanford University.  Within months of completing USC’s MFA in Acting program, he caught Aaron Sorkin’s eye and landed a guest role on HBO’s The Newsroom in an episode named after his character (airing July 22).  Amin can also be seen in the upcoming films Take Down the House and Indefinitely, and on stages across the country including the NY Public Theater, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Magic Theatre, and A Noise Within. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

NEWS RELEASE: Grants available for Syrian Students at US Campuses

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NEWS RELEASE: Grants available for Syrian Students at US Campuses

Sharon Witherell, IIE, 212-984-5380,
Leena Soman, IIE, 212-984-5360,

For immediate release:

IIE Opens Emergency Student Fund to Provide Financial Relief to Syrian Students Studying on U.S. Campuses

Grants of $2,000 will help Syrian students with urgent financial needs to continue their studies in the United States

NEW YORK, February 15, 2012 The Emergency Student Fund (ESF) of the Institute of International Education (IIE) is issuing a call for nominations from U.S. colleges and universities that have Syrian students on campus with urgent financial need due to the escalating unrest in Syria. The program aims to help international students from Syria pursuing higher education in the United States complete their studies so that their academic careers are not interrupted as a result of turmoil in their home country.

Syria-ESF will provide grants of $2,000 each to Syrian students nominated by their U.S. host colleges and universities who may be unable to continue or complete their degree program in the United States due to serious financial difficulties precipitated by the situation in their home country. Administrators and faculty from accredited U.S. campuses can nominate up to four Syrian students at their institutions who need financial assistance to complete spring semester 2012.

International Student Advisers or other campus officials should submit applications to IIE by February 29, 2012. To nominate students, advisers must complete the Syria-ESF nomination form and e-mail it to Applications directly from students will NOT be accepted.
U.S. host campuses nominating students for Syria-ESF awards are expected to provide some emergency assistance to the nominated students, through tuition waivers, full or partial scholarships, housing, stipends, loans, work study, or other forms of support.

IIE anticipates that the need will exceed funding currently available in its Emergency Student Fund, and is actively seeking donations from interested individuals and foundations.

Awards will be announced in early March. IIE may announce a second call for nominations in late March 2012 depending on the availability of funds and ongoing need.

“The Institute is committed to helping students finish their chosen courses of study so that they will be prepared to help meet their home countries' needs,” said IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman. “Supporting students now is critical to educating future leaders for our increasingly interdependent world.”

According to data from the 2011 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, published annually by IIE in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, more than 500 students from Syria studied in the United States in 2010/11, an increase of 24 percent from the previous academic year.

IIE’s Emergency Student Fund provides grants to post-secondary students matriculated at accredited educational institutions outside their home countries whose sources of support have been impacted by natural disaster or other crises. Since 2010, IIE’s ESF has provided over $1 million to nearly 400 students from Japan, Haiti, Libya, and Thailand whose home sources of financial support were impacted by crisis or natural disaster. 

Building on a Freeman Foundation designation of $2.5 million for emergencies involving students from East and Southeast Asia studying in the U.S., IIE is issuing a request to donors around the world to support this fund for other world areas. The Institute seeks additional contributions for the Emergency Student Fund so that it can respond quickly to help international students when disasters and emergencies in their home countries threaten to jeopardize the completion of their studies.


Institute of International Education
Founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is a private not-for-profit leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. In collaboration with governments, foundations and other sponsors and donors, IIE creates programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals from all sectors. These programs include the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U.S. Department of State. IIE also conducts policy research, provides resources on international exchange opportunities and provides support to students and scholars in danger.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

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Saturday, March 3, 2012
Specail Guest Editorial The Record
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Aref Assaf is president of the American Arab Forum, a think-tank specializing in Arab and Muslim American affairs.
THE Democratic primary contest between Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, and Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, over the redrawn 9th District in North Jersey will have the unintended consequences of pitting the Arab and Muslim communities and their allies on the one side and the Jewish community on the other.
Some call parts of Paterson "Little Jerusalem" because the area is home to places of worship for Christians, Jews and Muslims. By all accounts, the relationship among the area’s people and leaders has been cordial and cooperative.Sadly, politics, money, lobbying and disinformation are about to spoil whatever semblance of friendship and hope there are. The turf war has begun and while we did not start it, the community of Arabs and Muslims in the district give Pascrell victory.Jewish and now some mainstream newspapers have framed the June 5 primary as a litmus test for the survival of Israel.
Although Pascrell has consistently supported Israel, Jewish sources say he is not a perfect example of an Israel loyalist. Moreover, they warn about Pascrell’s home turf, which is swarming with a large and suspect community of Arabs and Muslims.This is nothing short of deplorable blanket racism. We are being depicted somehow like a fifth column; we are perceived as ineffective at harnessing our political power. Pascrell is being condemned for failing to be a 100 percent on the side of a foreign country and for sleeping with a suspect community whose vote will most likely determine the outcome of the elections.
The community has taken notice of how this election is being framed. We detest the questioning of our loyalties and doubts of our patriotism.This escalation of the election’s tempo will surely engender greater involvement by the community in the Pascrell campaign. Already grass-roots meetings are strategizing for a massive turnout, voter registration drives, fund raising and targeted mobilization of volunteers. I was invited to one meeting and the mood was intensely personal.
Ironically, Pascrell’s standing in the community has been steadily rising, but it was not because of his position on foreign issues. The community has long advocated for a two-state solution where Israel and Palestine live peacefully side by side, the long-standing position of the United States, Pascrell and many in the Jewish community.The community recognizes Pascrell’s positions on domestic issues such as fighting discrimination and advocating for the protection of the civil and religious rights of all Americans. They recognize Pascrell’s long record of accomplishments, office accessibility, personal friendships and, above all, sincerity.
While some of Rothman’s supporters put the flag and the security of another country above ours, we place America first and unconditionally. While they put Israel first, we place America second to none.If Rothman truly supports President Obama, he should have chosen to defeat Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, in the 5th District instead of choosing to fight Pascrell, a fellow Democrat. These are uncontested facts not lost on the district’s voters.

Radio Chicagoland expands into Southland Chicago and Northwest Indiana

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Radio Chicagoland which is broadcast every Sunday from 8 am until 11 am is now expanding its broadcast signal on two stations. Radio Chicagoland will now simulcast live on both WSBC AM 1240 and WCFJ AM 1470 radio stations.

The call-in number remains 773-792-1240 and the web site remains But while WSBC AM 1240 broadcasts mainly to Chicagoland's North, Northwest, West and near Southwest suburbs (as far south as Palos), the new radio station WCFJ AM 1470 will now include listeners in the far Southlands and Northwest Indiana. WCFJ is based on Chicago Heights and will include southwest suburban communities from Orland Park south.

"Listeners in Orland Park should be able to chose between either station but now the new station will open up the popular political and current events talk radio program to many new communities including Tinley Park, Frankfort, Homewood Flossmoor, Chicago Heights and also into Northwest Indiana," said radio host Ray Hanania.

The program focuses on the hottest topics in the news and includes a special interest in regional, national and international politics.

Kheir Fakhreldin co-hosts during the program from studios located in Northwest Chicago at 5625 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

Hanania also hosts Radio Baladi on WNZK AM 690 in Detroit every Friday morning from 8 (EST) am until 9 am there. The web site is and the call in number there is 248-557-3300.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Journalists face many hazards in Middle East

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The day after Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Anthony Shadid was buried by family in Beirut, Lebanon, two journalists were killed in fighting in the besieged city of Homs in Syria.

Shadid was leaving Syria where he had entered unofficially on horseback with a guide to avoid the restrictions imposed by the Syrian dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad when he had an asthma attack that turned critical. He died. Shadid knew that his assignment was dangerous and yet he continued to pursue the truth in coverage of the Syrian civil war.

War is hell. But before anyone could even pause to honor Shadid's commitment to the dangerous profession of pursuing truth in the Middle East and among the region's Arab World dictatorships, news came that two more journalists had died, this time as a result of Syrian military shelling of civilian homes in Homs.

American freelance journalist Marie Colvin and freelance French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the Syrian military bombardment of the homes. They were accompanied by a dozen other journalists who all had sneaked into Syria to cover the growing civil war by civilians to oust their dictator Bashar al-Assad. And it is even believed the killings may have been intentional as everyone knew the home that was hit by the shelling was being used by journalists.

Syria's dictatorship has prohibited journalists from entering Syria and covering the conflict as a part of an official campaign to silence the pro-Democracy protesters. Some were being allowed in but only accompanied by official Syrian government minders. But those journalists who have risked their lives to bring the accurate story out of the oppressive Syrian country would not be silenced.

The National American Arab Journalists Association, which represents more than 250 American Arab journalists throughout the United States, issued condemnations of the killings of Colvin and Ochlik. NAAJA issued a statement of condolences on the news of the death of Shadid. NAAJA has condemned the Syrian assault against civilians and the targeting of journalists which is intended by the Assad dictatorship to prevent accurate news reporting. 

Some American Arab media are working for the Syrian Government. These media having been working overtime to spin the news insisting that it is the protesters themselves who are murdering the many women and children who have been killed. More than 7,000 civilians have been murdered so far in the intentional assault that is targeting civilians to "punish" the public for daring to challenge the tyranny of the minority-run Syrian dictatorship.

Journalists in the Middle East are threatened all the time. It doesn't just happen in the Arab countries. It happens in Israel where many Palestinian journalists are forbidden and denied entry to cover events in Israel. Much of the coverage of Israel is handled by Israelis and journalists with a clear personal bias towards events and the news.

The only real tribute to Colvin and Ochlik and to Shadid who risked his life, too, though he died of a health-driven illness, is to recognize that journalism is a fundamental component of freedom. Without journalists and the ability of professional writers to witness and record events, freedom of human beings is jeopardized and threatened.

We salute the journalists who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend truth. Truth is Democracy and Democracy is freedom. One day soon, no doubt, the people of Syria will experience true freedom with the ouster of the Assad dictatorship.

One day soon Palestinians living under Israel's brutal occupation will also experience freedom.

Journalism has its faults, biases and traitors to the cause of accuracy and truth. But Freedom relies on the clarity of a human being's eye to witness and record events without prejudice and with accuracy regardless of personal feelings or partisan political beliefs.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, February 17, 2012

NAAJA Mourns the loss of Anthony Shadid, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author

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Anthony Shadid was unlike many others. He loved the American Arab community and he also loved professional journalism. He began his journalism career at the Associated Press and though he was born in Oklahoma, he quickly learned Arabic as an adult. His heritage as an American Lebanese and his love for Arab culture drove him to journalism and to great heights.

Shadid went on to the Washington Post where he won two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing and then was hired by the New York Times where he covered Iraq and later worked as the bureau chief in Beirut.

He died Thursday in the Middle East reportedly of an asthma attack.

NAAJA expresses its deep condolences to his family. Anthony Shadid was a strong supporter of NAAJA and said he was proud to have his name among so many other great journalists who continue to strive to bring the voice of American Arabs to the world.

American Arab journalists suffer greatly in America.

They are ostracized by mainstream American journalism if they express their opinions too strongly. They are targeted by other American Arab media for their demand for true professionalism and honesty in reporting and for seeing the bias that exists against American Arabs in this country.

The Society of Professional Journalists has led this discrimination against American Arabs and many American Arab journalists have avoided association with the bigoted SPJ.

UNITY: Journalists of Color which supposedly advocates for the rights of minorities in journalism have also ostracized and excluded American Arab journalists because they do not want to share their power which is now divided among Black Journalists, Hispanic Journalists, Asian Journalists and Native American Journalists. They don't want more minority groups sharing in what little they have as a group.

And the American Arab community is divided, as we see in how the community is responding to the brutality of the Syrian Government of Bashar al-Assad against the people of Syria and the murder of more than 7,000 Syrian Civilians. American Arabs come from a region of the world where free speech is challenged and suppressed. They are taught to avoid controversy and not "air the dirty laundry" so discussions about the need for change in the community evoke anger, animosity and even threats.

In this difficult environment, no wonder there are so few American Arabs in journalism as noted in the recent Columbia Journalism Review column by Justin Martin. (Click to read.)

Many American Arabs have avoided the profession of journalism to avoid all of these pitfalls, from the bias in the mainstream American media to the anger that often is evoked from the American Arab community when journalists address issues they do not like or they disagree with.

Anthony Shadid managed to navigate all of that. He was only 43 when he died. So young and so talented. He managed to rise above the community and return to the Middle East where he provided professional insight as a role model not only for young American Arabs seeking to enter the difficult field of American journalism, but also to Arab World journalists, many of whom work to represent the politics of their sponsor nation rather than strive for the purity of objectiveness that journalism is dedicated and that many great journalists seek.

Anthony Shadid was a great journalist and the American Arab community is greatly distressed by this loss to the American Arab community and to professional journalism.

-- Ray Hanania
On behalf of NAAJA and its members

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Justin Martin asks the question: Why not more Arab Journalists in American media?

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This important question is ignored by the bigotry and bias of the majority of the news media ... it deserves more attention and I wonder why the mainstream media doesn't address it more often. One reason is the bigotry that exists in the mainstream news media that reflects the discrimination that is "policy, practice and reality" in American society and politics.

Please read and comment. The Columbia Journalism Review should give more space to this topic because it cuts right to the heart of the problem of how this country addresses the Middle East.

Recently, when a leader of NAAJA in Washingtn DC spoke with aides to President Barack Obama, asking if he would address one of our next conventions, the response was "Absolutely not." Why? Because of the bigotry in this country, Because Obama is playing politics with the Middle East, Arabs and Muslims and only cares about how it applies in the Middle East not in a Diverse America. And, because Obama knows that the mainstream American media -- and organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists and UNITY" Journalists of Color, are driven by racist and discriminatory views and leadership. 

(The SPJ is the worst, most discriminatory organization in American journalism today. It's leadership is racist and driven by anti-Arab and anti-Muslim policies as demonstrated by the series of events from the closing of the Arab SPJ Section to the slander against Helen Thomas to the interference run by its leaders to keep American Arabs from running for SPJ leadership positions.)

Read the Martin piece and please comment.

Ray Hanania
NAAJA National

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NAAJA urges community to help InFocus Newspaper

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The Anaheim-based mainstream American Arab-Muslim newspaper InFocus is facing severe financial challenges and is on the verge of shutting down. We urge community members to do what they can to help support this newspaper which reflects the highest journalism values and professional journalism.

Here is the open appeal that was published by InFocus to explain their difficulties. Although the newspaper is in California, American Arabs and Muslims throughout the country should be concerned.

Ray Hanania
National coordinator NAAJA

Their web site is (CLICK HERE)  ... and their Facebook Page is (CLICK HERE)

Assalaamu Alaikum!

We, as community leaders, are proud to write to you about the role InFocus News plays in our community.
Recent news – such as learning the FBI used paid informants to monitor activity at mosques – made it clear to us that our most important challenge as Muslim Americans is informing the public and shaping public opinion to counter the heavy load of misinformation being spread about Islam and Muslims. Those who have access to a more balanced perspective through IFN are more supportive of our community and more vocal in advocating for justice and tolerance.
IFN is distributed free of charge to more than 70 mosques, 350 Muslim businesses, and 35 public libraries, and at major Muslim events across California, Nevada, Arizona and Oklahoma. Making a profit is not the objective of IFN. In fact, IFN is a non-profit organization. With your support, IFN plans to soon become a national newspaper; a newspaper that will also reach elected officials, interfaith leaders, media professionals, and other fellow Americans.
We are contacting you to join us in supporting IFN's work. We have been big fans of their success and professionalism and have volunteered our help to build on their efforts.
We invite you to support the unique educational efforts of the newspaper. About 70% of IFN’s operating costs are supported by advertisers. The rest comes from those in our community who value having an American Muslim outlet telling our story to the general public. There are a number of ways to get involved in supporting this project.
  • Sponsor subscriptions to at least five (5) people of influence or to public libraries or prisons
  • Become a Friend of IFN by automatically giving $100, $50, $20 or even $10 every month
  • Make a one-time generous donation to help IFN’s operating expenses.
We finally have a great opportunity to establish our own strong media outlet that will reach the public at large. We hope we can count on your generous support to realize this goal. Please use the attached envelope to make your donation today. Every amount will help.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

NAAJA Condemns Atlanta Jewish Times for calling for "hit" on President Obama

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The National American Arab Journalists Association today denounced the Atlanta Jewish Times which published a column by its publisher, David Adler, calling for the Mossad to "hit" President Barack Obama. Click here to read London Guardian Story on the controversy which many American media are trying to ignore.

Anyone who speaks English knows the meaning of that phrase, that to place a "hit" on someone is to call for their murder.

Mr. Adler's newspaper has promoted all kinds of anti-Arab and racist propaganda over the years. But because he is American Jewish, his ignorance is tolerated. In fact, many of the mainstream American news media have ignored the story and are trying to play it down.

Adler quickly took the column down when foreign media began to criticize the hypocrisy and the call to violence. But thanks to Gawker, it was been preserved, Click here to read the column (PDF) that Adler later removed.

Here's a section from the column that has been preserved:

Three, give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.
Yes, you read "three" correctly. 
Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles?
Another way of putting "three" in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of seven million lives...Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?
You have got to believe, like I do, that all options are on the table.

Adler even speculates that Israeli leaders have thought about killing the president, in a manner that suggests he is okay with it. (He doesn't even protest the idea after writing it.)

Ironically, in the same newspaper, there was a story published about an Atlanta woman who sent an anti-Semitic package who was then killed by police in Atlanta.

Wow. The hypocrisy is outrageous here.

David Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times writes that the Israeli Mossad should take out a "hit" against President Obama, and no one screams at all, except maybe some members of the foreign press. That's okay. But it's just routine news when an American expresses anti-Semitism, an act of ugliness and hatred, and then is killed by Police.

Mr. Adler, shame on you. But worse, shame on the American mainstream news media for ignoring Adler's venom. He should be fired from the newspaper or the newspaper should be shut down. That we tolerate some forms of vicious hatred only exposes the hypocrisy of American journalism.

Mr. Adler took down the column, as he should. But that is not enough. He should be punished and the Society of "Professional" Journalists should stop playing politics with Middle East and Arab-Jewish issues, and stand up for what's right. Of course, when was the last time the biased SPJ did that?

NAAJA Urges the SPJ and all Journalism groups to condemn Adler's call to violence and we urge officials in Atlanta to shut down the Atlanta Jewish Times for promoting violence against the President of the United States.

-- Ray Hanania