Articles

"American Muslim Voices"

In Broadcasting, media on December 22, 2008 by Editor Z

Talk radio is a medium of ten perceived as being dominated by white Anglo-Saxon straight males mostly of a conservative political persuasion. Their program content often caters to either conservative politics, Christian programing, or a combination of the two which have sometimes become more enmeshed in recent years.

But in Texas of all places, there is one Muslim social Justice figure who is starting to find a niche in talk radio.

Here is a story from the Lone Star Iconoclast:

Sipping green tea across from The Lone Star Iconoclast at a Starbucks in Dallas last week, Hadi Jawad scratched his head. He didn’t know what to make of this lack of news. To him, the new verdict was huge. The jury found all the defendants guilty on all counts for basically giving charity to children in Palestine.

“I would have thought that the outcome this verdict in the second trial, the retrial, would have made national news. It didn’t. The first one did. This one is regional. It’s in this area. It didn’t make New York or LA. That’s startling. You’d think it’d make big news,” he said.

The retrial had been more “intense” for Jawad than the original one. He spent up to three hours each day outside of the building with Hungry For Justice (H4J), a group working in support of the five defendants outside the Earle Cabell Federal Court Building.

“I didn’t miss a day. We had a totally different action going on. We probably served 5,000 meals there during lunch. We fed the homeless. We did this whole action the two months we were out there,” said Jawad.

The local glossy city magazine wagged its finger at H4J’s feeding program. A writer with D Magazine said the H4J support group had exploited the Dallasites that are homeless in order to manufacture more sympathy for the defendants. Jawad, of course, disagreed.

“I’m not giving them a sandwich for free and say, ‘Stand over there and hold this banner.’ I’m not doing that. I told them what the issue was and why they are getting this food, and if you want to stand in support, we’d appreciate it,” he said.

Jawad knows how this game is played, though. The 56-year-old Pakistani immigrant (reared on the Shia side of Islam) has been an active advocate on social justice issues all his adult life. In high school, he organized an effort to clean up the campus’ dilapidated restrooms. In 2004, he co-founded the Crawford, Texas Peace House. And three weeks before the latest HLF verdict, Jawad entered the radio business seeing the need to bring the voices of American Muslims to the airwaves.

Jawad’s hour-long radio show “American Muslim Voices” can be heard on KMNY 1360 AM Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. This opportunity came four months ago with the help of his friends at the upstart Rational Radio , a progressive talk radio station in North Texas. In fact, last year he had introduced the station’s founders, Tunde Obazee and Dave Clifton. Obazee’s wife, Kelli, later approached Jawad for program ideas catering to the local Muslim community.

Indeed it seems this old medium that previously and in many ways still is monopolized by the mostly white conservative male Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson. And although it by and large still is, talk radio as a medium seems to be undergoing a transformation, much like the rest of American society. More woman are gaining a voice in talk radio. African -American and Latinos are gaining more prominence in the medium as are gays. Liberals too are creating their own patch in the radio landscape as well.

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