The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reporters without Borders issues new report on risks facing Palestinian journalists

Palestinian journalists caught in the Gaza crossfire
Report of fact-finding visit
View article:

Reporters Without Borders today released the report of a visit it made to Gaza and Israel from 4 to 7 December to investigate the disturbing situation of journalists working in the Gaza Strip, to meet with the authorities and to propose ways of improving the security of the media.

Palestinian and foreign journalists working in the Palestinian territories are exposed to two different kinds of threats, one from the Israeli army, which has been responsible for many acts of violence against the press since 2000, and more recently from the various Palestinian factions that do not hesitate to target media that criticise them.

The Gaza Strip has become the scene of especially violent inter-Palestinian clashes this year. The tension between Hamas, the ruling Islamic party that won the elections at the start of the year, and Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas’ party, has led to a political stalemate that has paralysed Palestinian institutions. The split within the government has inevitably had repercussions on the street, and journalists are no longer safe.

Representatives of all the Palestinian factions and the Israeli army profess a desire to respect press freedom and the work of journalists, but the statistics belie their claims. This year alone, the Israeli army attacked or threatened 16 journalists and wrecked the premises of three news media, while Palestinian militants caused damage to seven news media by setting them on fire or smashing equipment, and attacked at least four journalists. Six foreign journalists have also been kidnapped by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Reporters Without Borders believes that the safety of journalists will never be taken seriously until the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli army decide to apply the law by bringing those responsible for crimes against journalists to justice. Systematic investigations must be carried out, the findings must be published and those found guilty must be punished.

Reporters Without Borders also proposes the creation of a distinctive sign so that journalists can be more easily identified. The organisation is normally opposed to the use of signs that could mark journalists out as targets. Identifying oneself as a journalist in Iraq or Afghanistan significantly increases the risks to which one is exposed. But in some cases it could provide additional protection in the Palestinian Territories, where journalists face a regular and professional army.

Reporters Without Borders therefore proposes to rapidly bring together Palestinian and Israeli journalists, politicians from both camps and Israeli military officials to discuss this question and find a solution that would reduce the risks to which journalists working in the Palestinian territories are exposed.

It is also vital that all Palestinian factions should quickly agree on a joint statement calling for both local and foreign journalists to be respected. The opening-up of the state-owned media - the news agency WAFA and the radio and TV broadcaster PBC - to all Palestinians regardless of their political affiliation are also essential conditions for improving press freedom.

Lastly, the creation of a regulatory body would help control the excesses of media used as propaganda outlets by certain factions. Professionalising the media and giving them a universally-recognised status would also help to combat the stigmatisation of journalists, who are often branded as “traitors to the nation” as soon as they try to stand back and put some distance between themselves and the political parties.

Entitled “Palestinian journalists caught in the Gaza crossfire,” the report is available on the Reporters Without Borders website (

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

CPJ: Sudanese journalists convicted for column on government perks

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465­1004 Fax: (212) 465­9568 Web: E-Mail:
Contact: Joel Campagna e-mail: Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x104

Sudanese journalists convicted for column on government perks

New York, December 27, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the criminal convictions on Tuesday of two Sudanese journalists in connection with a column critical of government perks.

A criminal court in the capital, Khartoum, ordered Zuhayr al-Sarraj, former columnist for the private daily Al-Sahafa, to pay a fine of 5 million Sudanese pounds (US$2,500) or spend one year in jail, according to the newspaper’s former editor, Noureddin Madani. Madani was also convicted in the case and ordered to pay a fine of 2 million Sudanese pounds (US$950) or spend six months in prison.

The two journalists were charged two years ago in connection with an al-Sarraj column criticizing perks that parliament and President Omar Bashir had approved for high-level government officials. The journalists were charged under the Sudanese criminal code and press law with slander and inaccurate editing, according to Sudanese journalists.

“It’s alarming that the Sudanese government treats journalists as criminals for scrutinizing official actions,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “This spurious case speaks volumes about the government’s stance on press freedom.”

The Sudanese Council of Ministers initiated the charges, claiming that al-Sarraj had exaggerated in the column, “Dividing the Spoils.” Madani told CPJ that the government had never contacted the journalists to point out any errors.

“This verdict is meant to silence journalists,” Madani told CPJ. “Why does the government take a journalist to court? Does the government need money? Two million [Sudanese] pounds does not benefit the government; it is about pressuring journalists.”

Madani, is now deputy editor-in-chief of the Arabic language daily Al-Sudani, and al-Sarraj is a columnist for that paper. Both plan to appeal Tuesday’s verdict, Madani told CPJ.

Al-Sarraj still faces trial for a January 2006 column in Al-Sahafa, which criticized Bashir for failing to address the many problems facing the Sudanese people. He was arrested by Sudanese security forces and held for 60 hours at Kober jail in Khartoum on January 3 and later charged by the national security prosecutor with “insulting the president.” If convicted, al-Sarraj risks losing his license to practice journalism in Sudan.

Press freedom has been heavily curtailed in Sudan in recent months. On October 15, Abu Obeida Abdallah, a reporter for the pro-government daily Al-Rai al-Aam, was released after being held incommunicado without charge for more than two weeks by security forces. In September, several opposition and independent newspapers were seized or heavily censored, among them Rai al-Shaab, an opposition Arabic-language daily for the Popular National Congress party, and Al-Sudani.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Friday, December 22, 2006

Morocco Magazine banned for publishing religious jokes

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA
Phone: (212) 465­1004
Fax: (212) 465­9568
Contact: Abi Wright
Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105

MOROCCO: Magazine banned over religious jokes

New York, December 22, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the banning in Morocco of an independent magazine and the charges brought against its director and a reporter for publishing an article analyzing popular jokes about religion, sex, and politics.
Driss Ksikes, the publisher and director of the weekly magazine Nichane, and reporter Sanaa al-Aji, were charged with denigrating Islam under Article 41 of the Press and Publication Law 2002. The charges stem from a 10-page article examining how popular humor reflects issues in society.

“We tried to understand society through jokes,” Ksikes told CPJ. “What we did just reflects what is there in society.”

Ksikes and al-Aji face three to five years in prison and fines ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 dirhams (US$1,100 to 11,000) under the press law. Their trial has been set for January 8.

“We understand that Nichane may have offended people by publishing these jokes,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “But that cannot be a justification for banning a magazine and threatening its journalists with jail. We call on the Prime Minister to rescind the ban and on the legal authorities to halt the prosecution at once.”

Nichane was banned by Prime Minister Driss Jettou late on December 20. Authorities informed the publication of the order early the following morning. Its Web site has also been closed. Nabil Benabdellah, minister of communication, said at a press conference that Nichane would remain shuttered until the outcome of the trial, the state news agency Maghreb Arabe Presse reported.

The news agency quoted Benabdellah saying the article “harm[s] the fundamental values of the Moroccan society, all the more reason that these values constitute the basis of cohesion between the various components of the Moroccan people.”

The Arabic-language magazine is a sister publication of the independent French-language weekly TelQuel. Both magazines are owned by the TelQuel Group headed by Ahmed Reda Benchemsi.

Benchemsi told CPJ that staff at Nichane had received death threats via phone and e-mail since the government made the charges against the publication. He said that the religious jokes involved God, angels and prophets as characters, but did not make fun of them. He added that Nichane staff did not write any of the jokes.

The magazine apologized on public television for any offense caused. “We were not trying to offend any of our Muslim readers, and if anyone thought so then we strongly apologize, especially because we have a respectful relationship with our readers,” the magazine said in a statement.

In February, another weekly came under fire for offending religious beliefs. Le Journal Hebdomadaire accused the authorities of orchestrating protests against it for publishing a photograph of a French newspaper showing one of the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that triggered widespread anger in the Muslim world.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ICJ Book on Arab and American Journalists can fight media bias

Press ReleaseDecember 8, 2006
ICFJ Publishes Arabic Version of “Fighting Words”

Our practical handbook on how to fight stereotypes, loaded language, and other biases in media coverage now available free for journalists

Dawn Arteaga, ICFJ Communications Manager

(Washington, D.C.) – “Fighting Words: How Arab and American Journalists Can Break Through to Better Coverage,” published by the International Center for Journalists in Washington, D.C., is now available in Arabic. The manual, the offshoot of a no-holds-barred conference between American and Arab journalists, identifies sources of bias in media coverage and ways to prevent it.

Coauthored by an American, Lisa Schnellinger, a media consultant in the Middle East, and an Arab, Mohannad Khatib, general manager of Jordan’s ATV, Fighting Words examines misperceptions on both sides and suggests how journalists can avoid stereotypes and other pitfalls.

“With the U.S. engaged in wars in two Muslim nations, it’s more essential than ever that the Arab and American public get the depth and nuance they need from the news media to make good judgments—rather than flip the page or turn the channel,” said ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan. “Superficial, biased and wildly provocative coverage, from both regions, only fans the flames.”

The manual, first published in English in September, was primarily sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. To order a copy in either language, contact, or visit


The International Center for Journalists , a non-profit, professional organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition.

In the past 22 years, ICFJ has worked directly with more than 20,000 journalists from more than 176 countries. Aiming to raise the standards of journalism everywhere, particularly in areas with little or no tradition of a free press, ICFJ offers hands-on training workshops, seminars, fellowships and international exchanges to reporters and media managers around the globe. For further information, visit

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Interview with publisher/editor of Chicago's Arab Horizon Arab Newspaper

Amani Ghouleh, the publisher and editor of al-Offok al-Arabi (The Arab Horizon) and her husband, Abder Ghouleh, English section editor of the newspaper, are the guests on the most recent edition of 30 Minutes broadcast live on the Internet and also every Friday evening in January on Comcast Cable TV Channel 19 (8:30 PM).

30 Minutes is hosted by journalist Ray Hanania, who is also managing editor of Arab American TV Online ( which offers a wide variety of online TV programs and programming featured exclusively on Comcast Cable TV in 140 Chicagoland suburban communities.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Arab Journalism Scholarship launched

AAIF Launches Scholarship for Arab American Journalism Students

The Arab American Institute Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the Al Muammar Scholarships for Journalism, the most generous scholarship program of its kind offered to Arab American students.

Beginning in 2006, up to four scholarship grants, valued at $5,000 each, will be awarded to eligible Arab American college students who are majoring in journalism, as well as college seniors who have been accepted to a graduate journalism school. Awardees will be selected by a panel of judges drawn from the print and broadcast media in the United States. The initial scholarships will be for the 2006-2007 academic year with funds paid directly to the schools designated by the awardees.

The Al Muammar Scholarships were established this year by AAIF supporter Mashael Moamar in honor of her parents, Zakia and late Abdulaziz Al Muammar, who have always been strong advocates of educating women. Also noteworthy, is that Ms. Moamar’s late grandfather, Ibrahim Al Muammar, was a journalist in Egypt.

The scholarships are consistent with the goals of the AAI Foundation which include aiding Arab American youth with leadership and service programs, including awards for public and community service and Washington, D.C. internships. Therefore, the Foundation is proud to administer the Al Muammar Scholarships and thanks Mashael Moamar for her generosity.

“We are honored to have this opportunity to help channel financial aid to deserving Arab American journalism students,” AAIF Executive Director Helen Samhan said. “Our young generation has so much talent, energy and cultural perspective to offer,” Samhan continued, “that the country at large will benefit from more Arab Americans entering careers in journalism and public affairs. Mashael Moamar’s generosity could not have come at a better time.”

To be eligible, applicants of Arab descent must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university in the United States. They must have a current grade point average of 3.3 or higher, and a demonstrated commitment to the field of print or broadcast journalism. An applicant’s sensitivity to Arab American issues and record of social advocacy and community involvement will also be important considerations. Applications must be postmarked by Wednesday, February 15, 2006. Awardees will be announced in May 2006.

Visit our student’s page for additional information and applications or contact AAI Program Coordinator Sabeen Altaf at (202) 429-9210. To learn more about the programs of the AAI Foundation, visit AAIF’s homepage.

Chicago Headline Club/SPJ Journalism Awards announced

Greetings from the Chicago Headline Club chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

We are now accepting nominations for our 30th annual Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, the Chicago area's premier local journalism honors.

You should soon receive a nomination packet in the mail. You may also download an entry form that can be saved, filled in and printed from a computer by visiting

This year, in-depth reporting prizes for daily newspapers will be issued in pairs, for circulation more and less than 300,000. Review the contest rules and categories, along with lists of past winners at

The deadline for entries is January 19, 2007. Chicago Headline Club members may submit their own work for half-price. Questions can be directed to Pat Kosar, (630) 681-9212 or

Nominations are also open for our Ethics in Journalism Award. We encourage you to let us know if you've seen a reporter, editor or news organization performing in an ethical manner: taking personal risks by taking a stand or refusing to follow the pack. Download the nomination form at

and return it to us care of our partners, Business & Professional People for the Public Interest, by February 10, 2007.Winners of the Lisagor Award and Ethics in Journalism Award will be honored at an April 27th banquet, along with the receipient of our second annual Watchdog Award for Excellence in Public Interest Reporting.

This honor, which comes with a $3,500 cash prize funded by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, replaces our traditional "public service" Lisagor award.

More details are coming soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Baghdad Radio editor murdered

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465­1004 Fax: (212) 465­9568 Web: E-Mail: Contact: Abi Wright e-mail: Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105 IRAQ: Radio station editor killed in Baghdad

New York, December 4, 2006—Unidentified gunmen killed Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, 36, a news editor for the privately-owned station Radio Dijla, shortly after he left his home in Baghdad’s al-Washash neighborhood for work today, sources at the station told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“We offer our condolences to the family of Nabil Ibrahim al-Dulaimi,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “He was a member of what has become one of the deadliest professions in Iraq. Iraqi journalists and media staff are constantly being targeted with impunity,” he said.

Murder accounts for 69 percent of work-related deaths among journalists and media support workers in Iraq, with crossfire accounting for the rest. In all, 89 journalists, including al-Dulaimi, and 37 media support workers have been killed for their work since the the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict in CPJ’s 25-year history.

Radio Dijla has been targeted previously. On September 13, unidentified gunmen kidnapped Muhammad Abdul Rahman, 55, a former broadcaster for the station. He is still missing and the identity of the kidnappers is not known, according to CPJ sources.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit