The inaugural recipient of Carleton University’s new award honouring the legacy of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh will embark on a reporting project to explore what he calls the erasure of Palestinian voices in Canada. The project will examine the chill effect on those who are seen as pro-Palestinian in Canadian media, academia, government and other sectors of society.

Journalism graduate Ali Al Ashoor

Ali Al Ashoor is an Arab poet and journalist who graduated June 18 from Carleton’s Bachelor of Journalism program. He is the author of four books of poetry. His passion for social justice began in 2011 as a response to the inaccuracy of media coverage of the protests during the Arab Spring in his home country of Saudi Arabia. Now he will focus on the consequences for those who openly advocate for Palestine.

“Some have been smeared because they illustrated their support to the Palestinians in social media. Silence has been enforced,” Al Ashoor says. “You either be silent about Palestine – a word that is not allowed to be used in several institutions – or bear the consequences.”

The Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism is backed by an endowed fund recently established at Carleton, supporting a reporting award of at least $5,000 each year, in perpetuity. The honour is one of a number of emerging reporter awards being granted this year.

Abu Akleh was 51 at the time of her death on May 11, 2022, when she was fatally shot while reporting for Al Jazeera at the entrance to Jenin Refugee Camp, in the West Bank.

Shireen Abu Akleh

The Israeli human rights group B’tselem as well as media organizations such as the BBC, CNN, New York Times, Al Jazeera and Bellingcat, all concluded after detailed investigations that Abu Akleh had been killed by a bullet fired by the Israeli military. For its part, the Israeli government initially denied involvement, but eventually acknowledged the fatal shot was probably fired by an Israeli soldier but denied allegations a soldier intentionally targeted her.

News of Abu Akleh’s killing sent shock waves around the world and through the journalistic community. As a trailblazer for journalists internationally and a role model for young reporters, Abu Akleh relentlessly pursued stories about the lives of Palestinians living under occupation, often at great personal risk.

With the permission of Abu Akleh’s family, and the support of initial donors Shawky Fahel, Maher Arar and Monia Mazigh, Carleton’s journalism program established this new award.

Abu Akleh’s brother, Tony Abu Akleh, had a chance to meet this year’s winner of the award during a Zoom call just before Al Ashoor’s convocation ceremony.

“Throughout the years, Shireen was the icon that I watched, someone who gave us hope,” Ashoor said during the call.

Ali Al Ashoor meets Tony Abu Akleh via Zoom

Abu Akleh noted how important it was for young journalists like Ashoor to now get the chance to take on important reporting projects on social justice issues, enshrining Shireen’s legacy.

“It’s really important that Shireen’s name and legacy moves on and stays out there,” Abu Akleh said.

Different from other scholarships, students who want to be considered for the Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism submit a proposal for a journalism project they would like to undertake that would shed light on an important social justice issue.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in
Share: Twitter, Facebook