Starting out at the Daily Targum


I’m not going to waste your time trying to explain who I am and how I’m trying to make some sort of difference in the world or portray my own views on something… You’ll figure out all those things as (or rather, if) you follow along.  My name is Syjil Ashraf.  I’m a Pakistani-American freshman undergraduate student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on a pre-med track with a major in Journalism & Media Studies.  No, I don’t want to do anything like Sanjay Gupta.  I just like writing and I also happen to want to be a physician.  Two separate things.

Rutgers’ college newspaper is a student-run publication that is unaffiliated with the university. My first article was published in today’s (or technically yesterday’s) issue.  Rutgers hosted a panel on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the media with speakers Jack Shaheen, Professor Emeritus of Mass Communication at Southern Illinois University and author of Reel Bad Arabs, and Kenneth Stern, defense attorney, director of anti-Semitism, extremism, and hate studies for the American Jewish Committee and author of Antisemitism, and you can find my report on the event here.

Shaheen was a very well-spoken, quite interesting man… Very passionate.  Stern, I’m sorry to say, bored me somewhat and I tried hard to write giving the anti-Semitism side of the panel fair coverage so as not to look like the typical biased Muslim.  Truth is, Shaheen just owned him.  I’m glad, he did though… To be frank, anti-Semitism really is not a problem within the media.  Islamophobia is the new plague.

Typically, the editors edited out one of my favorite lines.  During the program, Shaheen mentioned William Shirer, a war correspondent in Berlin in the mid-1930s who was aware of what was happening to the Jews, but played it down out of fear of German spies and the fact that the United States government was not willing to hear of the atrocities.  Shaheen felt this did not fall in line with true journalistic integrity.

“If you’re going to be a journalist and you’re going to be in the city, and you can’t tell the truth, what are you doing here? Lose your job, get out.  If you have integrity, tell the truth and let them fire you.”

Shaheen’s words, which I identify with as my own journalistic philosophy, called to mind the downfall of one NBC News correspondent after comments calling out American media for its unfair and pernicious targeting of a “certain demographic”… Ashleigh Banfield.

At one point, Clement Price, the moderator of the panel and apparently “the foremost authority” on black history in New Jersey as well as professor of History at RU-Newark, asked Shaheen “There’s a perception among many Americans that there are no vocal moderate Muslims. Can you speak to this?”  Shaheen straight up told him, “Well, there aren’t…The problem is that those Muslims who want to speak out and who are highly capable of speaking out are not given the opportunity to speak out.”

I guess I’m here to try and change that.

Ab imo pectore,


If the above link doesn’t work, here is the URL for the article on the Targum website:


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