Muslim Voices — Aziz
0:00:06:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: Welcome to Muslim Voices. I'm your host, Rosemary Pennington. In Arabic, the word Tahrir means liberation. The idea behind WBAI's radio Tahrir is to liberate Arabic and Muslim voices from mediation and present them simply as they are. Executive producer, Barbara Aziz, an anthropologist by training, says radio Tahrir is radio for Arab and Muslim Americans as well as by them. The weekly hourlong magazine program steers clear from what Aziz calls hot news, featuring instead, pieces that focus on Arab and Muslim thought, art, and life. And while the program is produced in New York City, it's not just American voices or concerns Tahrir deals in. It also touches on the lives of Arabs and Muslims globally. Aziz recently spoke with Muslim Voices about producing radio Tahrir as well as her approach to doing journalism.
0:01:06:>>BARBARA AZIZ: Which is our voice. It's like by and of our people. We have no non-Arabs in production. So it's a selection of material that we make from our own community, not based on hot news. I have done hot news programs for Pacifica Network from Iraq, from the capitals, mainly capitals of the Arab world. So I've done hot news, I've done features for other programs but my program is a magazine which is mainly for education. There's one other thing I want to mention about Tahrir and that is a very important part of our work is the training of young Arabs and Muslims. We obtain modest grants to do this and I accept people who are from our community because we need to run our own shows, we need to learn communication skills, not just writing to the editor and not just demonstrating in the street or arguing with someone publicly, debating, we need to produce. And as you know, I have issues with Muslim Voices because you do not, as far as I understand, have Muslim producers which I think is very unfortunate. So generally, most of the people come to me are in college or they've finished college and they're just starting a job where they want to improve their communications skills and quite a few, it seems more and more, are in journalism. Because journalism, fortunately, finally, is now attracting Arabs and Muslims which it did not do 15, 20 years ago. So I'm very pleased about that. I love it.
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0:03:12:>>BARBARA AZIZ: I have made quite an impact in Tibetan Studies. And this may be significant to people in Bloomington because I know you have an Altaic studies department. So I knew the people there and they'll know me, whether they like me or not, I don't know because they were dominated in the 80s by textual scholars and I came as an anthropologist and we, anthropologists, undermined the textual scholars to some degree. They did not dominate the interpretation of Tibetan civilization. So I felt pretty good about that and gratified and satisfied and then I said hey, you know, still lots of years left and I wanted to work with my own people, the Arab people because I was not happy even in the 80s. I mean, this 2001 watershed is made up. I mean, September 11 happened but it does not become the moment of definition of Arabs and Islam. Long before that, going back to when my parents came here from the Middle East. In the early part of the 20th century, there was discrimination and misunderstanding and bad information. But we were not defined quite so clearly as a threat, let's say. But there was a lot of misunderstanding about Islam and Middle Eastern people and I understood this as an anthropologist. I'm saying hey, you know, what is going on here? So I decided to jump in, plain and simple, to use my training as an anthropologist and my love of my people to, first of all, educate myself and second, to educate others. And I had all this field experience, you know, even during marriage, I was in the field in Nepal at least four months of the year and had an overseas professorship in Japan and I was research-oriented, so I was always working in research in the field. So it was a very easy move to the Middle East. But I did not want to be an anthropologist in the Middle East. I wanted to write better. I wanted to reach a wider public and I wanted to do more, what I would call public education. So journalism is public education.
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0:05:47:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: Barbara Aziz is the executive producer of Radio Tahrir WBAI in New York City. You can listen to a livestream of the program on its website, radiotahrir.org
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0:06:06:>>ROSEMARY PENNINGTON: This has been Muslim Voices, a production of the voices and visions project in partnership with WFIU public media from Indiana University. Support comes from the Social Science Research Council, music was provided by Animus. You can find Muslim voices on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. There's also a blog at muslimvoices.org.
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