On Friday, the 7th ARIJ media forum’s opening ceremony was held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, under the slogan “Arab Media: The Battle for Independence,” with the participation of 320 media professionals, including Arab and foreign experts and trainers, specializing in investigative journalism, to discuss the implications of the increasing decline in media freedoms in the region and the rise of the wave of disseminating fake news and usurping the essence of media work.
Lina Shawaf, Executive Director of Radio Rozana, who participated in the forum, said in a phone call that the event will last for three days, during which “there will be 30 training workshops, a lecture and a dialogue session, especially on the topic of journalists’ safety in conflict zones. The forum will also focus during one of the workshops on Techniques for investigating human rights violations in Syria and Iraq.
Shawaf explained that “most of the forums and conferences are focusing on the escalation of Arab authorities’ campaigns against freedom of opinion and expression, especially after the recent events in the region, and these forums began to attract Western journalists who support media freedom in the Arab World.”
Regarding the treatment of Syrian journalists in the Arab countries, Shawaf said that during her arrival to Amman from Istanbul airport to attend the forum, “I was stopped just because I was Syrian, and there was no other problem, which astonished me a great deal. I was not arrested, but other Syrian journalists who were going to participate in the conference were detained and returned to Istanbul, while those who were allowed to enter were interrogated, as was the case with me, for no other reason but our Syrian nationality.”
Shawaf expressed her regret at the status of journalists saying: “Unfortunately, I do not know where we have come to, and why these restrictions are imposed on Arab journalists in general and Syrian journalists in particular.”