Syrian journalist, Turkish paper win French media freedom prizes
STRASBOURG – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoA Syrian journalist who lives and works in the war-scarred city of Aleppo was awarded the Reporters without Borders Prize in France on Nov. 17 for her defense of press freedom.
The Paris-based media rights group singled out Zaina Erhaim for her “determination and courage” in covering the conflict in Syria, which is deemed the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.
Over the past two years, Erhaim has trained around 100 print and television journalists, a third of them women. Her efforts have led to the emergence of a number of independent newspapers and magazines.
Her uncle accepted the prize on her behalf at a ceremony in the French city of Strasbourg.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) also honored center-left Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, which won the watchdog’s Media of the Year prize for its “independent and courageous journalism.”
In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brought a criminal complaint against the paper for publishing a video it said showed a convoy of vehicles bound for Syria with weapons supplied by the Turkish intelligence agency.
Erdoğan vowed the paper’s editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, would pay “a heavy price” for the report which raised questions about Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
The paper was also the first in the Muslim world to reprint parts of the first Charlie Hebdo issue – featuring a controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad – released after January’s deadly Islamist attacks on the French satirical magazine in Paris.
RSF’s Citizen Journalist of the Year Award went to Zone 9, an Ethiopian bloggers’ collective that regularly denounces rights abuses in the east African country.