Muslim cowgirl urges balanced coverage of Islam

Asma Hasan

Author, lawyer, and spokesperson for moderate Muslims in America, Asma Hasan urges journalists to dig beyond prepackaged reports and balance coverage of Islam.

"If journalists continue to do prepackaged reports, they will lose audiences. Journalists should cover [Islam] because ethnic groups in America are turning to satellite or cable TV to watch news from home. My parents, for example, watch Pakistani TV news," she said.

Hasan has experienced many prepackaged stories in talk radio and on television where she has been interviewed. "Hosts know what they want to say and they just have to find a guest to say it. But the truth is more fascinating than the prepackaged story."

She provided examples disputing the notion that "not enough Muslims condemn terrorist activities," contrasting it to the notion that "Catholics don't have to preface they are against child molestation."

Hasan attended Catholic school as a child and believes that children should have a multi-faith component in their education because it stimulates questions about their own religion.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, moderate Muslims feel empowered to criticize their Muslim clergy when they make anti-American statements. Muslims in America want spiritual guidance from their religion. They are taking back their mosques and reclaiming their spiritual bases.

Hasan notes that many imams in America can't get a job in their own country so they come to the U.S., without knowing much beyond Muslim fundamentalist views. Unfortunately, many American Muslims accept these ministers as spokespersons of Islam and don't question their views.

In recent years, Americans have become more knowledgeable about Islam, Hasan added. Now, when Asma Hasanpeople realize she is Muslim, they ask what mosque she attends, and they "catch on if you are not fasting during Ramadan." But overall, Hasan likes the non-judgmental quality about Americans who truly want to know: "What does it say in the Koran?"

— Dala Giffin, Colorado Press Women