Award-Winning Journalist, Creator of the Fahmy Foundation for Free Press
Mohamed Fahmy is an Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist, speaking on topics such as freedom of expression, human rights, corporate media responsibility, journalism in conflict zones, and extremism. Fahmy spent years reporting from the Middle East for CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy, and covered the Iraq War for the LA Times (which formed the basis of his first book, Baghdad Bound). He served as a delegate for the Red Cross to protect the rights of political prisoners, the missing, and refugees in Beirut. He received a Peabody Award for his coverage of the Arab Spring, and co-authored the Egyptian Freedom Story: a photo documentary of the January Revolution of 2011. He also received the Tom Renner Investigative Reporting Award for the documentary Death in the Desert, which exposes the trafficking of Sub-Saharan Africans to Israel.
In 2013, he accepted the title of Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo. There, he was arrested by Egyptian authorities, who falsely accused him of conspiring with a terrorist group and fabricating news to serve the group’s agenda. He was imprisoned in the Tora maximum security prison where he spent a month in solitary confinement and over 400 days living with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. After unprecedented outcry from international press freedom organizations and the diplomatic community—and with his attorney, Amal Clooney—he was finally pardoned of all charges and released in September of 2015.
While still in prison, Fahmy founded the Fahmy Foundation for Free Press: an NGO and non-profit dedicated to supporting journalists imprisoned worldwide. Upon his release, he appeared at the World Forum of Democracy in Strasbourg days after the Paris attacks and met with the Secretary General of the European Council. He received the Canadian Commission World Press Freedom Award, this year’s Freedom to Read award from the Writers’ Union of Canada, and a certificate from UNESCO during his incarceration. Today he teaches at UBC in the Centre for Applied Ethics. He lives with a spirit of acceptance after sustaining a permanent shoulder disability from an injury that was exacerbated in prison due to medical negligence. He is collaborating with Amnesty International on a charter to protect Canadian citizens imprisoned abroad, and is completing a memoir on his experiences. Tentatively titled The Marriott Cell, the book is set for a fall 2016 publication, and will be developed into a feature film by The Development Partnership.
Media in the Age of Terror: How the War on Terror Became a War on Journalism
After a successful career as a journalist, and after accepting the post of Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo, Mohamed Fahmy was falsely accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood—a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government. He and his colleagues were imprisoned in the Scorpion maximum security prison in Egypt for over 400 days, living with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS.
After massive international outcry against his sentence, Fahmy was finally pardoned of all charges in Sept. 2015. Now, in his riveting keynotes, Fahmy discusses the media trial of the century and his incredible ordeal. He talks about what it takes to survive solitary confinement and imprisonment with hardened extremists, far from home and family—offering unparalleled insights into the motivations of insurgents. He explains how press freedoms and ethics are threatened by states and endangered by media organizations. And he speaks of the role NGOs and human rights advocates play for journalists and prisoners of conscience.
Today we are witness to an unprecedented era of attacks on journalists, freedom of the press, and human rights. Reporters are now targets of governments and extremists alike, with little neutral ground to operate freely. Fahmy’s reflections on free speech, the war on terror, and the role of objective reporting are thus invaluable as we work to uphold integrity and protect civil liberties for all.
Egyptian Freedom Story: A Photo Documentary of the January 25th Revolution
Profusely illustrated throughout with over 200 color and b/w photographic reproductions, Egyptian Freedom Story is a definitive, absorbing account of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Co-written by Samy Al Tobgy, the chairman and founder of Mediaworx, and Mohamed Fahmy, a TV producer/journalist specializing in covering the Middle East, both men witnessed firsthand Mubarak’s demise and the country’s efforts to build a democracy.
The Egyptian Revolution of 2011, locally known as the January 25th Revolution, was a movement following a popular uprising that consisted of demonstrations, marches, plaza occupations, riots, non-violent civil resistance, acts of civil disobedience, and strikes. With no apparent leadership, millions of pro-democracy protesters from Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez took to the streets demanding the fall of the Mubarak regime. Dignity, freedom, and social justice were some of the demands that millions voiced in the early days of the revolution as a result of 30 years of dictatorship, injustice, and prosecution. After 18 days of continuous demonstrations, former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
Egyptian Freedom Story gives a new meaning to the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Over 200 photos were taken by professional Egyptian photographers during the unrest, uprising, and, ultimately, the revolution that has paved the way toward a “New Egypt.” How did the Egyptians break away from Hosni Mubarak’s stronghold on January 25th on Tuesday in Tahrir Square? How did the nation survive the government’s orchestrated horror on January 28 with no internet or mobile phone communication, as they faced Mubarak’s Central Security Forces, State Security, and the Egyptian Intelligence? How did the revolutionaries sustain 18 days in the open protesting in Tahrir Square until Mubarak stepped down on February 11th?
Baghdad Bound: An Interpreter’s Chronicles of the Iraq War
As the invasion of Iraq looms, a young Egyptian man working in the Gulf decides to take up a freelance job as a field translator for the L.A. Times, and unsuspectingly embarks on an electrifying roller-coaster ride from Kuwait City to Baghdad. What happens to him and his team over the following three months is documented in the book Baghdad Bound.
This is a gripping account of the remarkable events that he witnessed before and during the Iraq War. Fahmy recounts in detail the escape of BBC, CBC, Newsweek, and other news network crews from the Iraqi border after the threat of being besieged by a group of disgruntled and armed locals. He offers a direct look at the horror of living in fear of coalition bombs, as well as Saddam loyalists. He recounts psychological trauma after a first-hand look at the casualties of war and the real face of the Ba’athi regime. He reports on the aftermath of the bombing, where Iraqis, coalition forces and journalists struggle to make sense of post-war Iraq. And he recounts the mayhem of looting, rubbing shoulders with Shi’a leaders and Iraqi exiles like Ahmed Chalabi who were vying for power while Saddam was on the loose.
Of all the books that have been published about the Iraq War, Baghdad Bound is a first. A mosaic of thrilling untold stories from the theatre of war, it is an earnest and unique collection from an Arab interpreter who finds himself caught in an intricate web involving the CIA, the L.A. Times, and Iraqis of various walks of life. Here is a raw view of the war through the eyes of a regular man who stumbled into a defining chapter of modern history.
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