Inside Amani Al-Khatahtbeh's quest to build a news site for Muslim millennials - Technical.ly Brooklyn

Media

Apr. 1, 2016 12:17 pm

Inside Amani Al-Khatahtbeh’s quest to build a news site for Muslim millennials

The 23-year-old founder says MuslimGirl is out to tell the stories that mainstream media often neglects. Here's how she's making it happen.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.

(Courtesy photo)

The way Amani Al-Khatahtbeh sees it, American media has a blind spot: Muslim women.

When she was a child, Al-Khatahtbeh dreamed of a news network that would accurately represent Muslim women.

When she was a teenager Al-Khatahtbeh started blogging about topics she felt were neglected by mainstream media outlets.

And now, the Brooklyn-based 23-year-old is proud to call herself the founder of MuslimGirl. The site covers politics, fashion, lifestyle, religion and more. The goal is to create a “sustainable, established, flagship for the Muslim community,” she said in an interview.

"Corporate news simply neglects stories and narratives impacting marginalized communities."
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, MuslimGirl

Although the site’s main focus is Muslim women, MuslimGirl also covers stories about Muslim men that are often missing from mainstream media headlines.

For example, the recent murder of three black Muslim men in Indiana.

“I think the murders of these men shows why we need alternative media outlets like MuslimGirl,” Al-Khatahtbeh said. “Corporate news simply neglects stories and narratives impacting marginalized communities in a very politicized way, the media has been completely silent about this hate crime.”

Although, authorities have not declared their deaths a hate crime, many in the Muslim community believe that it was and have started the #OurThreeBrothers social media campaign to bring awareness to the case.

In the wake of the attacks in Brussels, the site has offered commentary on the senselessness of terrorism, while also shining a spotlight on the under-covered attacks in Lahore.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. (Courtesy photo)

So how did the daughter of immigrants become a media entrepreneur? It wasn’t always in the cards.

Al-Khatahtbeh’s parents, who are from Jordan and Palestine, would have preferred that she just say goodbye to her website and focus on a more “safe, serious and real career,” she said. Al-Khatahtbeh graduated from Rutgers University in 2014.

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However, her parents slowly began to notice her glaring passion for MuslimGirl. By the time she landed on this year’s Forbes 30 under 30 list for media, they were 100 percent on board.

MuslimGirl is currently raising its first round of funding — mainly from friends and family. The funding has allowed Al-Khatahtbeh to work on MuslimGirl full-time, along with a couple of other paid writers. Although she and her team have worked in a variety of coffee shops and diners they now work out of an office in Williamsburg. The exposure MuslimGirl has received allows Al-Khatahtbeh and other MuslimGirl writers to make guest appearances that are sometimes compensated financially.

Al-Khatahtbeh says she’s finding her way through a male-dominated business sector, despite feeling discredited at times because of her age, sex and ethnicity. Self-care and mentorship is how she’s able to tackle it all, she says.

Wearing a hijab/veil, Al-Khatahtbeh takes issue with the tokenization of minorities by mainstream media networks.

“Some news organizations only include one person who is supposed to represent us all,” she said, “but what actually needs to happen is that all of the diverse and unique voices within our community should be respected and heard.”

With MuslimGirl, Al-Khatahtbeh aims to do just that.

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