LONDON – I sat down with Harry Fear (26), a British journalist and filmmaker. You may know him as a correspondent for the RT news channel or from his documentary films covering the wars in Gaza. Our goal here at Mvslim is to break stereotypes about Muslims, build bridges and share perspectives. Although Harry is a passionate reporter behind and in front of the camera, we want to introduce our audience to the unique individual Harry Fear is.
Getting in touch with Harry was easier than expected. I emailed to request an interview and I honestly didn’t expect to get an answer at all. But only an hour later I got a response saying he was down to do the interview! I immediately started brainstorming subjects that we could discuss. We talked about many issues and so I have decided to split this interview up into four pieces.
But I had one main question for Harry: If you had the whole world listening to you what would you say? What would your message be?
Fear starts by saying: “Well, this is a really important question for me because it is something I think about quite a lot… Obviously an important part of my life is trying to advocate different messages on social media. Those messages are not always representative of my specific philosophy, but they are a contribution to try to make people think in a different way,” he said.
He continues by explaining how the different platforms he has been given over the years to spread his messages helped him with his advocacy. He took every opportunity that came his way to put forward his “manifesto”. Harry was able to do a TEDx talk in each of the years 2013, 2014 and 2015 in different cities around the world. Life is all about taking action and reflecting on how one can improve himself, he says. He tells me how disappointed he is now looking back at his talk in 2014. “I am so disappointed with my stage performance and also my messaging. In 2015 I tried my best to better that and to deliver something that is more comprehensive, accessible and more inspiring.”
Me: Talking about reflecting, if you could go back to when you were a teenager what advice would you give yourself?
Harry Fear: Do not underestimate the cynicism of people, organisations and institutions.
Back to my main question, and Fear had this to say about his ultimate goals: “Fundamental for me has been talking about trying to humanize others, those who are suffering injustices or suffering from specific war-torn situations – and trying to do that as potently as possible.” This is what originally drove him to go to Palestine to make films.
He also strongly believes that the media and news can play an important role in this mission of combatting dehumanization and apathy. “The structural problems of news are fascinating. The way that news works is to reduce humanity out of itself almost deliberately,” he said.
Harry says we tend to become used to seeing other people suffering and we don’t continue to be necessarily concerned about it. Combatting this is also part of the struggle. In many of his talks he repeats the idea “People Not Numbers”.
Nice people and white teeth
One thing he was sure about his perfect day was that it definitely would not be in London and thanks to his work he has been able to travel all around the world. I myself love to travel, too; that’s how I spend most of my free time. So I couldn’t help but ask him what his favourite places were. His top 4: Malaysia, Canada, Palestine and Sweden.
“My experience in Sweden was that people were unbelievably nice – for Europeans! I saw in Sweden a lot of ‘Europe’s best’ character,” as he put it. He also described Canadians as really nice people and said they also all seem to have really white teeth. The culture in Malaysia is something he found really special. “It seems to be kind of wholesome and holistically–integrated implementation of modern life and Islamic principles.” Last but certainly not least: Palestine. Of the place and the human contacts there, he described “incredible hospitality, openness and wisdom”. He experienced the best of human behaviour there in a way that was really inspiring, he said. The way people treat and support each other and the human spirit there is something he won’t forget.
“My trousers accidentally fell down in our backyard and my neighbour saw me.”
As an only child Harry Fear enjoyed the great attention his parents gave him. But when I asked him what the most embarrassing moment of his life was, it became clear that his childhood was not all roses. At the age of seven his trousers accidentally fell down in their backyard and his neighbour saw him. Harry added: “I’m hoping not to top that [embarrassing moment] with something better any time soon. I think they are still traumatised. (laughs)”. Well, Harry, if the occasion occurs please keep us updated!