It seems like every month or so I need to update the same basic post with new names: more Arab journalists killed, arrested, or otherwise harmed. You've probably already heard about the three journalists killed in Iraq, including Ahmed Wael Bakri (program director for al-Sharqiya), Maha Ibrahim (of a local TV station), and Yasser Salihee (Knight-Ridder). And the al-Arabiya journalist last month who was wounded badly and denied permission to leave the country.
Don't miss Alia Amer's poignant reflection on her experience as an Iraqi journalist:
As a journalist in Iraq, I am used to accusations from different sides. Iyad Allawi’s government closed the al-Arabiya offices in Baghdad for three months after alleging that we were guilty of “inhumanity” (because we showed footage of dead American soldiers) and condoning violence (because we used words like “resistance”). We also received daily threats from the “other side” who branded us as the government’s “mouthpiece” (because we aired frequent interviews with those in power). In other words, we were guilty of journalism.
We used to joke about those threats, until one day “the other side” followed through, killing seven of my colleagues in a targeted car-bomb attack. It was a huge price to pay for a few exclusives. I was unconscious for four days and am still working hard to regain the use of my right arm and hand.
The hardest decision I have ever had to make is returning to Iraq after that attack. I was even more afraid of leaving my son without a mother. The definition of terror for me is allowing yourself to believe you are God, the judge of who lives and what dies. A true resistance shows its face and directly confronts those in power – it doesn’t lurk in the shadows murdering innocent people. But as a journalist, I can only guess at intentions; for that reason, I can describe the attackers neither as “terrorists” nor as the “resistance”, only as “armed groups” – that is as sure as I can be.
UPDATE: the first commenter below says that the report that the al-Arabiya reporter who was badly wounded in a kidnap attempt was denied permission to leave the country was a lie, and that I should correct the information. My mention of the story was based on reports like this one from AFP:
"Television channel Al-Arabiya said US military authorities had refused to authorize the evacuation from Iraq of reporter Jawad Kazem, who was wounded by armed men Saturday in Baghdad. In a statement received by Agence France-Presse, the Dubai-based TV station said its attempts to obtain permission for a medical aircraft to evacuate its journalist from Baghdad had met with 'a refusal from the American military authorities'."
Al Arabiya television said on Sunday Iraqi and U.S. authorities were delaying the evacuation for medical treatment of its senior Iraq correspondent who was shot and critically wounded by unknown assailants a day earlier. The satellite channel, based in Dubai, said it had been trying unsuccessfully for the past 24 hours to get permission for a plane to land in Baghdad to evacuate Jawad Kadhem "to save his life". "All Al Arabiya efforts to ensure the arrival of the medical evacuation plane had been met by refusal from the American military authorities," the station said in a statement."
If it turns out to not have been true, then that's great, and I apologize for any misunderstandings, even though there have been no public denials of the account that I can find. At any rate, for more details on Jawad Kazem's travails (and al-Arabiya's struggles more generally) see this piece in the Chicago Tribune,