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Who is Bilal Abdul Kareem: Journalist, Sympathizer, or Activist?

A few days ago a very large channel called me to be an analyst regarding events that are taking place in Syria and Iraq. After spending much of the past 2 years documenting resistance efforts and submitting reports to various channels around the world I felt I had sufficient experience to speak on the issue. I agreed and a time was arranged. Shortly thereafter I received another phone call from the same channel but from a different department. They also wanted me to appear as an analyst as well but on a second program. “Ok” I said and I gave the person on the phone my website address so they could know more about me and how to introduce me. Shortly thereafter I received a call from the 2nd person only this time the atmosphere was different.

“Are you a journalist or an activist?” I was asked. Strange question I said to myself, particularly since they called me and not the other way around.

“Journalist” I said.

“From the work you have been doing I am concerned your views are much like an activist” I was told.

I said: “Imagine I was walking in the street one day and saw a man hit an old lady over her head and steal her purse. I pull out my camera and film the entire event. I submit my footage to my channel and write an article regarding the incident. If I did so, would anyone say I was an activist?”

“No” was the reply.

“But what if I didn’t get a chance to interview the man who knocked her to the ground and robbed her. You would still maintain that I am a journalist and not an activist right?”

“Hmmm…I see your point”.

After an exchange of ideas we ended the conversation. An hour later I got an email stating that the interview was canceled as the focus of the segment has now changed. Uh huh.

To them my beard, prostration mark on my forehead, and 5 daily prayers means that I could not possibly be an objective journalist for I could only be an activist. How many journalists around town look like me? Therefore the work that I’ve done covering an angle of the Syrian war that no one wanted to cover (Foreign Fighters) is devalued in their eyes. Because I refuse to submit to the “armchair journalism” routine we see day in and day out and report what everyone else is saying then I must be an activist. I can only report what I see, and if I see the majority of these fighters willing to take the shirt off their backs to help the Syrian people then I’m obligated to report that. Why should I join the chorus of scaremongering with little to no basis just so I can collect a paycheck at the end of the month? Most journalists don’t realize the obligation they have firstly to their Creator and then after that to their viewers (or readers) to do their absolute best and investigate before simply parroting the popular party line. After all, public opinion matters big time and wars are sometimes fought or not fought based upon the opinions of the masses.

Just think back to the run up to Iraq war and how ALL major news media outlets were nothing more than carrying the “Saddam has weapons of mass destruction” line. Had I been there at that times and had the proper information, then I would have had to report that he didn’t have WMD’s. What do you think I would have been called? You guessed it! “A Saddam Hussein sympathizing ACTIVIST.”

About Bilal Abdul-Kareem

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