Rabat – Moroccan-German journalist Souad Mekhennet will receive the 2017 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism, the Chicago Journalists Association (CJA) announced on October 11.
Mekhennet, the first Muslim to win the award, was chosen for her work investigating Islamic extremism, resulting in her book, “I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad.”
The award was set up by the parents of Daniel Pearl, an American journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.
The prize will be given to Mekhennet on November 10 at the CJA’s 78th Annual Dinner.
Mekhennet, who was born and raised in Germany to a Moroccan father and a Turkish mother, is currently working for American news outlet The Washington Post.
CJA posted on their Twitter official account that the association “is proud to honor Washington Post Security correspondent and author Souad Mekhennet who ventured ‘Behind the Lines of Jihad’ to interview the world’s most wanted.”
CJA added that “[Mekhennet] will become the first Muslim reporter to receive the prestigious Daniel Pearl Award.”
The Daniel Pearl award was created in 2002 as a tribute to Daniel Pearl. It aims to reward journalists for their courage and integrity in journalism. Among the people who received this award of the award, Wolf Blitzer, a German-born American journalist and television news anchor who has been a CNN reporter since 1990, Martha Raddatz, a American repoter with ABC News and Lara Logan, a South African TV and radio journalist and war correspondent.
— Chicago Journ Assoc (@CJA_Updates) October 16, 2017
Published in June 2017, “I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad,” is a memoir where Mekhennet investigates into Islamic extremism in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
The 368-page memoir discusses the reporter’s personal experience as a Muslim reporter with a bicultural identity. As a Muslim, Mekhennet has had access to some of the most wanted members of jihadist groups, including Al Qaida and ISIS, who have refused to talk to Western reporters.
Throwing aside any fears, she was frequently told to “come alone, not to carry any identification,” and to “leave her cell phone, audio recorder, watch, and purse at the hotel.”
The journalist’s memoir became the Washington Post bestselling book after it was published on June 13. In her memoir, the journalist gives detailed information about her assignments across the Middle Eastern, Europe ,and North Africa, to terrorism and extremist groups, including in Syria and Iraq.
The journalist says she was committed in her memoir “not to take any side, but to speak about all sides and challenge them equally.”
The Moroccan journalist has worked for internationally renowned media outlets, including The New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Daily Beast and German television ZDF. She currently works at The Washington Post.