KARACHI: The Karachi Press Club (KPC) hosted an international webinar on Friday to pay tribute to slain Palestinian-American journalist and reporter Shireen Abu Akleh.
Shireen, who was associated with Al Jazeera, was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on May 11.
“She sacrificed her life for the cause of freedom of the press, and freedom of Palestine,” said senior journalist Mazhar Abbas. “Journalism is a very risky profession with so many journalists having sacrificed their lives while upholding their profession.”
He also suggested that the KPC initiate an award for the journalists showing courage in the line of duty. “It will be a great way to remember Shireen,” he said.
Senior journalist Owais Toheed, who has covered Israel-Palestine conflict for BBC, said Shireen’s courage in reporting gave her the voice of Palestinian resistance. And her funeral also showed the aggression of the Israelis against the Palestinians. “Twenty-five years ago, when she started her profession, she was a young girl. But she was very brave, calm and composed. Now her life is an example for other young journalists. Shireen already is a role model for many journalists across the globe,” he said.
Senior analyst Asma Shirazi called Shireen a “brave heart with an innocent soul, a heroine and a symbol of journalism”.
She said she was an inspiration for all journalists. “Many didn’t know about her, but they do now after her death. Her colleagues, especially the one who was with her when she was shot, said that she had a very different aura around her that day. In hindsight they say that it looked like she was mentally prepared to embrace martyrdom. Shireen and other journalists who report from conflict zones have an idea that they can receive a bullet any time,” she said.
The deputy head of mission, head of media and civil society at the Embassy of the State of Palestine, Nadir Alturk, said Shireen’s killing was a tragedy, but she was not the first one as almost 60 journalists had lost their lives in the past six years.
“Shireen was also targeted; she was not killed by mistake,” he said, adding that the Israelis acted as if they were above all human beings, as if no one could punish them.
He also pointed out that there was the conflict in Palestine and the conflict in Ukraine but both were dealt with so differently by the powers that be.
Hasan Abu Al Rab, who works for Palestinian Broadcasting, said the Israelis might have killed Shireen “but they will never be able to kill the truth”.
Givara Budeiri, another journalist working with Al Jazeera, said the Israelis wanted to kill Shireen to scare the other media persons working there and reporting on the conflict. “They want them to stop their work in Palestine, pack and leave,” she said, adding that there was also an issue of moving around with freedom. “The journalists working in Palestine are not allowed into Jerusalem,” she said.
“Shireen was a friend of each home in Palestine. Al Jazeera was covering all their stories, of a mother losing their child, of prisoners. And to kill a big journalist like her was to scare the small journalists. We all attended her funeral. We were unarmed, but we were attacked by the Israelis there as
well. Now we all want to continue our work because of Shireen,” she said.
Earlier, KPC President Fazil Jamili paid rich tributes to the brave journalist and spoke of the many challenges faced by newsmen all over the world. Journalist Mona Khan also spoke.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022