Studying Journalism is a new series exploring the experiences of Muslim journalism students in Ottawa as they reflect on how their religious and ethno-cultural identities influence the perspectives they bring to the world of media.
When I first applied to Carleton's journalism program, I received discouraging comments from some relatives and friends. Mainly, three “concerns” stood out in most conversations: I'm Arab, I'm Muslim, and I wear the headscarf. Some people said I would have difficulty rising in the program and later in my career due to these three distinctions. However, now that I'm nearly done my third year in one of Canada's most prestigious programs, I'm proud of the choice I made.
As the new coordinator of the Muslim Link, one of the tasks I assigned myself was figuring out the history of the paper that has become an important institution in Ottawa's Muslim community.
Muslim Link was founded in 2002 by Ali Bokhari and his wife Tahira Ismail. Ali was inspired to create the paper after seeing the success of The Muslim Link in the US. Founded in 1998, the American paper connects Muslims across the Virginia, Maryland, and Metropolitan Washington D.C area.
Ali's other motivation came from the fallout of 9/11 when stereotypes and misinformation about Muslims in Canada became rampant and it was clear that a forum was needed for Muslim Canadians to connect, share information, discuss their common concerns, and see their lives reflected in a positive light.