Reza Aslan

Well before Fox News anchor Lauren Green’s cringe-worthy interview with author Reza Aslan about how he, as a Muslim, could write a credible biography of Jesus, the UC Riverside professor was in a classroom at the Monterey Institute of International Studies teaching nonprofit professionals how to get media exposure.

“A great part of the success of Zealot relies on many of the principles I discussed in that seminar,” Aslan says.

After the interview video hit social media, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth jumped to number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Traffic to increased by 600 percent.

That’s Aslan’s news and culture website, run out of Monterey by MIIS grad Roshi Pejhan. “Think Huffington Post on the Middle East for young people,” she says.

The site, with a dozen or so contributors at any given time, covers a range of regional issues. A profile of an Iranian graffiti artist, for example, is featured next to a commentary on Egypt.

“Other journals have really well-defined gatekeepers,” Aslan says. “Only select people write, and everyone else is just a reader. That’s not who we are.”

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