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Syrian radio host shakes up Detroit’s Arab community

24 6 26

Laila Alhusini was 26 when she decided to leave her home in Damascus, Syria in the autumn of 2000 to pursue new opportunities in the United States. Although Alhusini was working professionally for several Arab and Western media outlets in Damascus, including Associated Press and BBC World News, as well as writing for Syrian newspaper Al Burhana, she felt that societal roadblocks against women were holding her back.

“I was having personal issues and I wanted to get away and get my freedom and I thought I could do that in America,” she said. “The laws in Syria are not supportive of woman’s rights and I felt I couldn’t be treated fairly.”

The timing couldn’t have been better, a year before Al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon. She chose to move to Detroit where the Arab American community was active and there was a growing Arab media.

Alhusini said that she was surprised that there were only a few Arab Americans working in mainstream US news media positions and she gave up the goal of finding a job in the American media. Instead, she was hired by Salam TV, a satellite TV Station based in Detroit that was new at the time and catering to the large Syrian American community in Michigan with news and features. Michigan has the second largest Arab population of any state in America apart from California.

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“They were looking specifically for a journalist from Syria who could speak the Syrian dialect clearly and reinforce the station’s connection with the prominent Syrian American community,” Alhusini explained. “They liked the work I had done while in Damascus and they ended up sponsoring........

© Middle East Monitor