15 December 2010

Moroccan journalist wins WAN-IFRA's 2010 Gebran Tueni prize

Aboubakr Jamaï, former managing director of the weekly
Aboubakr Jamaï, former managing director of the weekly "Le Journal Hebdomadaire"

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It has been five years since the assassination of Lebanese editor Gebran Tueni, killed by a car bomb on his way to work. In honour of Tueni's courage and commitment to freedom of the press, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) continues to give out a prize in his name to an editor or publisher from the Arab region. This year's recipient is Aboubakr Jamaï, the co-founder and former managing director of the weekly newspaper "Le Journal Hebdomadaire".

"The awarding of this prestigious prize is a tribute to all Moroccan journalists who suffer as a result of the limitations that have been imposed on their freedom of expression during these last years," said Jamaï, who teaches courses on political Islam and politics in the Middle East at the University of San Diego in the U.S.

The French-language "Le Journal Hebdomadaire" established itself as a tenacious critical voice, holding authorities accountable to tackling corruption, transparency and stopping human rights abuses. The weekly was crippled with legal fines by the Moroccan Supreme Court and authorities ordered advertisers to boycott the publication, preventing any kind of financial recovery. It was shut down in January 2010.

Maharat Foundation in Lebanon has called attention to the fact that Tueni's assassination was one of a series of assassinations of politicians and media workers in 2005, and came six months after the murder of journalist Samir Kassir. Maharat is urging Lebanese authorities to increase efforts to bring those responsible for Tueni's murder to justice, as having the killers remain at large encourages the impunity that has prevailed in Lebanon.

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