Assassinated Syrian journalist Raed Fares given media courage award

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A UK think thank has given its Courage in Journalism Award, presented annually to a journalist killed as a result of their work, to Raed Fares an independent Syrian reporter shot dead in Idlib in November 2018.

Mr Fares was described as a “frequent critic” of extremists in Syria and the Syrian regime, who had been kidnapped and tortured multiple times by Al Qaeda and was the target of an assassination attempt by ISIS in 2014.

He was the founder and director of the Radio Fresh station and was killed alongside his colleague Hamoud Al Jnaid by unknown gunmen on his way to cover a protest in Kafranbel.

“He was keenly aware of the risks he was taking but continued to use his voice to build the foundations for a free, democratic Syria,” said the Legatum Institute, who presented his son Mahmoud with the award. He said his father was his “hero” who may have died “but his ideas are inside us”.

Mahmoud said his father continued his work despite threats from the Assad regime, Russia and Islamist extremists “because he believed in freedom and democracy”.

Mourners attend the funeral of Raed Fares and Hamoud Al Jneid in Kafranbel. AFP

“All parties that were against the Syrian revolution hated Raed because he tried to communicate the voice of the Syrian revolution to the world,” he added.

The institute described Raed Fares as “a larger-than-life character who deployed a unique presenting style on Radio Fresh. One of his main weapons was humour, which he used to great effect in his opposition to the Assad regime”.

“His unconventional approach to broadcasting was a sign of defiance against hardline Islamic factions who had demanded that he stopped playing music or broadcasting female voices,” it added.

Research by the institute found that 55 journalists from October 2018 to October 2019 were killed as a result of their work. Among those who died was Lyra Mckee, who became the first reporter to be killed in the UK over their work since 2001.

“Raed Fares is most certainly a very worthy recipient of this award. I had the privilege of getting to know him a little and was constantly inspired by his extraordinary courage and enduring optimism in the face of relentless threats to his life,” said Mike Thomson, BBC World Affairs Correspondent and one of the Courage in Journalism Award judges.

“He was well known for his use of wit and humour as both a broadcaster and protester, which he used to draw international attention to the continued violence in Syria. Fares knew the dangers he was in but never let these stop him,” he added.

The award was started in 2017 to honour Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who was killed by a car bomb and had been threatened for investigating corruption.

Updated: February 27, 2020 05:51 PM

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