Iraqi Journalist Wins Donner/CJFE Journalist-at-Risk Fellowship

Monday, June 2, 2003
Massey College and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) are pleased to announce that Hikmet El-Hadj, a native of Iraq currently living in Tunisia, has been awarded the second Donner/CJFE Journalist-at-Risk Fellowship. Mr. El-Hadj will join other Canadian and foreign colleagues in the Journalism Fellowship Program of Massey College in the University of Toronto. The Journalist-at-Risk Fellowship is awarded to a mid-career journalist affected by sectarian or ideological violence and intolerance. Mr. El-Hadj, 45, has been a journalist since 1976, working for a variety of newspapers and magazines in Iraq. He is the founder of a Baghdad publishing house and the author of a dozen books of non-fiction, fiction and poetry in Arabic and Kurdish. He has been imprisoned several times since 1980 by the regime of Saddam Hussein for refusing to join the Ba'ath party. In 1996, he was fired from the post of editor-in-chief of Asfar, a quarterly magazine of current affairs, and he left Iraq for Tunisia, where he has been living ever since. Mr. El-Hadj says he was "very pleased" to win the fellowship. Asked about his plans in light of the collapse of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq, he replied: "I would like to return to Iraq if I can be assured that there will be peace. I want to devote my career to writing about human rights, especially women's rights, in the Arab world." Mr. El-Hadj will come to Toronto in September to begin an academic year of study in a variety of disciplines with an emphasis on political science. CJFE is a non-governmental, non-profit association of journalists and others who work to promote and defend freedom of expression and media rights in Canada and around the world. Massey College is an interdisciplinary graduate residential college which opened in 1963. The college has been home to the Journalism Fellowship Program since its opening and provides a congenial intellectual environment for the exchange of opinions and ideas. Both Massey and CJFE are partners in developing this experimental fellowship and are grateful for the generosity of the Donner Canadian Foundation. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or at cjfe@cjfe.org

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