Muslim Representation in the Media: Naveed Jamali and Ayman Mohyeldin
By Allison Raymond
On Wednesday, February 1, many of the Newhouse NYC students had the opportunity to speak with two amazing guest speakers in Professor Joy Reid’s Race, Gender, and the Media class. Given the current events of this past week, Reid decided to move up this topic in the syllabus and have a real conversation about the “Muslim ban” and how Muslims are represented in the media today.
Our first speaker, Naveed Jamali, is a former intelligence operative, author, and news personality. Since writing his autobiographical account of working as a double agent against Russian military intelligence, How to Catch a Russian Spy, Jamali serves as a reserve intelligence officer for the Office of Naval Intelligence.
In class, we spoke with him about the “Muslim ban” and how it is being perceived in other countries. When asked what we, as citizens of the U.S., can do to stay more informed about the issue, he answered, “What we’ve taken 30 minutes to talk about in class today, I would only have 45-90 seconds on a cable news network to say. There’s no way to communicate such a complicated topic through cable news.” He reminded us of the importance of primary sources, and advised us to be informed and educated, and to “keep light on the issues you don’t want to see fade”.
The second speaker, Ayman Mohyeldin, is an Egyptian-American anchor for MSNBC and co-anchor of “Early Today” on NBC News. Born in Egypt and working in NYC, Ayman has spent a lot of time in the Middle-East, covering stories on the conflicts there.
Our conversation focused on how Muslims, especially in the Middle East, are covered in U.S. newsrooms. Ayman said there is a general lack of diversity and representation of many minorities in newsrooms everywhere, and his being Muslim often makes it difficult to have conversations about current events. “I never want to speak on behalf of an entire community because that isn’t an accurate representation,” Ayman told us. Ayman does his best, however, to help other newscasters he works with keep a critical eye on the language they use to describe current events that are connected to the Islam religion.
These two speakers facilitated great conversations about Muslims in the media, and I am grateful to have spoken to these two men about this topic at such a relevant time.