Rapid control of the parameters of infrared radiation, such as amplitude, phase and the direction of propagation, is important in a number of military and commercial applications. Some examples are radar and lidar beam modulation and steering, optical communications and information processing. The suitability of canted antiferromagnet hematite ((alpha) -Fe2O3) for such applications is discussed. Experimental results of optical transmission in the 1 - 5 micrometers spectral interval, magneto- induced birefringence, acousto-magneto-optic diffraction, and the magnetic field dependencies of diffraction angle and efficiency (at a wavelength of 1.55 micrometers ) are presented in this paper. The combination of magneto-optic properties, which potentially introduce large induced birefringence, and acoustics (periodic modulation of birefringence along the cross-section of the optical beam), demonstrates enhanced efficiency of acousto-optic diffraction. Furthermore, an additional degree of freedom, which is the magnetic field tuning of acoustic velocities, is introduced. Directions for future development are also discussed.