Six months after September 11, Sarwat Husain realized she could not be the sole spokesperson for her Muslim community in San Antonio, Texas. So she began a newspaper. Almost five years later, she freely distributes the paper throughout Texas-with paid subscribers in 25 cities across the country. The newspaper, called AL-ITTIHAAD, which means unity, is a compilation of articles relating to Islam and the local Muslim community.
Something else has increased in the last five years: the hate mail. Husain says it mostly comes through e-mail, and she’s not bothered by it. “They’re just trying to harass me so I’ll stop doing my work,” she says, adding that her husband and children are actually more afraid for her than she is.
Husain, who was profiled in the book The Face Behind the Veil (Citadel Press, 2006), has learned software so that she can design the newspaper herself. She says she doesn’t print anything explicitly against the United States or the Bush administration but that her newspaper is becoming an alternative source of news. She has a reporter covering local Muslim issues in Texas, which is home to a large number of Muslims.
A recent online issue of the newspaper covered Malaysia’s take on Islamic finances, as well as the news that a tomb in India had been discovered belonging to a descendant of Prophet Muhammad. The online version of the newspaper includes a prayer schedule and cultural articles like one on the Arabic art of calligraphy.