The Middle Eastern television network Al-Jazeera was in Macon on Tuesday for a lengthy interview with Mayor Jack Ellis, discussing his time in office and recent conversion to Islam.

A Washington, D.C.-based crew from the network’s recently launched English-language channel sat for two hours with Ellis behind his closed office doors. They later took a stroll down Poplar Street with the mayor to capture his interaction with city residents.

“Al-Jazeera finds this a fascinating story because it celebrates the diversity — racial, religious, certainly cultural and ethnically — that the United States stands for,” said Viviana Hurtado, the network’s North American correspondent who interviewed Ellis. “It is a story about tolerance and about diversity in all of its incarnations.”

Ellis, who was raised as a Christian, late last week said he had become a Sunni Muslim during a December ceremony in Senegal, a country on the western coast of Africa. He is working to legally change his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis, keeping his last name at the request of two daughters.

Al-Jazeera English hit the airwaves in November as the first English language news channel headquartered in the Middle East. It has broadcast centers in Qatar, where its parent network is based, as well as Malaysia, London and Washington, D.C. The network, whose content is delivered to subscribers by satellite, claims 80 million viewers worldwide.


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