ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - It was Aasiya Zubair's dream to start a television network that would dispel Muslim stereotypes. What has become of that network since she lost her life?
Bridges TV is growing despite the death of Aasiya and the murder conviction of her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, who was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison. The network never covered the trial. But Wednesday, some of its executives were able to finally talk about the case.
Bridges TV, offering a wide variety of programming and reaching four million U.S. homes through cable and satellite, continues to operate for one overriding reason.
Sales and programming director Mohamed Numan-Ali said, "The only reason why we are still here is Aasiya. We're doing this right now, just for Aasiya."
Numan-Ali was the last person from Bridges to see Aasiya alive. He testified at Muzzammil Hassan's trial. Employees at Bridges, up until now, have been reluctant to publicly talk about Assiya's beheading. They totally disagree with those who believe the motive may have been, in part, an honor killing.
After Aasiya's life was taken, Bridges TV issued a statement on its website saying her murder was an act of domestic violence, and had nothing to do with religion.
"I'm really upset that people are just using it to like say Islam is teaching this," said Numan-Ali.
Bridges produces a newscast that airs at 7 p.m., but never covered the Hassan trial, despite requests from all over the country to address the questions it raised.
General manager Hunaid Baliwala said, "What we cover is our decision, and this is something that holds a lot of emotional baggage that we don't want to get into."
Even now, news anchor Tooba Khilji won't discuss the murder, but she says she fully believes in the Bridges mission set into motion by its founders.
"Bridges is a small part of just trying to bring understanding between many different cultures in the world," said Khilji.
Bridges TV has doubled its audience in the two years since Aasiya's murder, with subjects including everything from new battles for democracy in the Middle East to food programs produced in India to sports reports out of Australia.
Baliwala said, "We're trying hard, moving forward in a better direction."
Bridges TV hopes to expand into Canada and then Europe in the next two years. You can learn more about Bridges at their website.
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