In a world where the pursuit of truth often comes at great personal risk, the legacy of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh shines brightly. Her unwavering commitment to shedding light on the lives of Palestinians living under occupation left an indelible mark on the field of journalism. To honor her memory and passion for social justice reporting, Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication has established the Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism. This award seeks to perpetuate her dedication to truth-telling and support the next generation of reporters committed to the cause.
Remembering Shireen Abu Akleh
Shireen Abu Akleh was a courageous journalist who paid the ultimate price for her commitment to truth. At the age of 51, on May 11, 2022, she was fatally shot while reporting for Al Jazeera at the entrance to Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank. The circumstances surrounding her death sparked international outrage. Investigations by reputable organizations, including B’tselem, BBC, CNN, New York Times, Al Jazeera, and Bellingcat, concluded that she had been killed by a bullet fired by the Israeli military.
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Legacy of Truth-Telling
Shireen Abu Akleh was not just a journalist; she was a trailblazer who inspired countless young reporters worldwide. Her dedication to uncovering the truth about the lives of Palestinians living under occupation set a standard for journalism in the face of adversity. Many aspiring journalists, often young women, would stand in front of mirrors, holding a hairbrush as a microphone, emulating Abu Akleh’s distinctive style and her famous sign-off for Al Jazeera.
Emerging Reporter Award
To ensure that Shireen Abu Akleh’s legacy endures, Carleton University’s journalism program has established the Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism. Unlike traditional scholarships, this award invites students to submit proposals for journalism projects that focus on important social justice issues. By doing so, it encourages budding reporters to follow in Shireen’s footsteps, illuminating the world’s injustices and giving voice to the voiceless.
Family’s Support for the Award
The establishment of this award was made possible with the support of initial donors Shawky Fahel, Maher Arar, and Monia Mazigh, as well as the permission of Shireen Abu Akleh’s family. Her brother, Tony Abu Akleh, emphasized the significance of preserving her legacy, stating, “Such scholarships will maintain her legacy, will maintain her name, and I’m sure people will be interested to know about her achievements, her journalism, her death – all these issues.” Shireen’s family believes it is crucial to ensure that her memory lives on, and they are enthusiastic participants in the launch event.
Tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh
On September 22, 2023, a special event will be held at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa to pay tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh and launch the award in her honor. The event will feature heartfelt tributes from Abu Akleh’s friends, family, and colleagues. Moreover, a concert by renowned oud player Abdul-Wahab Kayyali and cellist Sheila Hannigan will grace the occasion. Highlighting the concert will be the first public performance of a new musical composition composed in honor of Shireen Abu Akleh.
Shireen Abu Akleh’s unwavering commitment to social justice journalism left an indelible mark on the world. Her tragic death serves as a stark reminder of the risks journalists take to uncover the truth. The Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism, established by Carleton University, seeks to keep her memory alive and empower future generations of reporters to follow in her courageous footsteps.