After having grown up in Pakistan his entire life, Raza Rumi, a journalist, never thought he’d feel in danger. However after his transition from print to broadcasting, Raza began to transform from covering topics like arts and culture to more political topics. He began to challenge ideas that were celebrated by Islamic extremists, resulting in threats that eventually made him feel unsafe in his own country.
“I was a commentator on my own show other than being a host, so I had very unconvential views on Islamic extremists, the Taliban, the government and more,” Rumi said. “So I got into a bit of trouble and finally I was attacked in March 2014 where my car was sprayed with bullets and my companion that was driving died. I survived luckily. After that I wasn’t feeling comfortable. I was traumatized; I wanted to regain my senses.”
In 2014 he came to America. He is a scholar in residence at Ithaca College, where he teaches a journalism course and in the Honors Program. This is his first year teaching as a professor. He hopes to use his experiences to teach about international journalism and political issues that happen worldwide, in a way that allows students to understand the respect of culture as well.
“You have to know local measures and local cultures,” Rumi said. “There’s conflict zones like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Central Africa Republic… where you have strife and you have war going on. It’s very tough, particularly for a young American journalist.”
With the recent Brussels and Paris attacks, the idea of more potential attacks has been instigating fear throughout the world.
Kelli Kyle is a junior journalism student who is currently studying in Aix-en-Provence in France. Kyle recalled how she had passed through Brussels a week before the attacks took place. She was flying through on a trip, walking through the same airport that was bombed a week later.
“It’s shocking to be close to Brussels when something like the attacks happen. It was very scary and changed the way I thought about the attacks,” Kyle said. “However I think it’s important not to give into the hysteria when these attacks happen. It’s important to understand why this stuff is happening.”
Kyle noted how studying abroad in an international country is an eye-opening experience due to the different cultural perspectives on the media.
“There’s a lot of French publications here that are really big that publish almost Islamophobic rhetoric.” Kyle said. “France houses the largest Muslim population here in the union and also has a lot of discrimination. There are a lot of tensions between Muslim people and the government.”
Rumi compared Pakistan journalism to American journalism by saying how the challenge of national power is not as strong in America as it is in Pakistan. He says with less national threat in America and a growing threat internationally, he has more freedom to use journalism how he wishes.
“It was not like the case before, so journalists are not really targets of conflict but since Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan, which is more than a decade ago, I think the whole nature of global reporting has changed,” Rumi said. “ISIS has scared journalists, Al-Qaeda has scared journalists; journalists are becoming a target of violence and local or regional global conflict.”
Rumi says that although the trauma of his experiences continues to linger, he still loves the excitement and chances that journalism provides.
“At the end of the day, journalism upholds public interest, values, and freedom.”