Media in the Age of Terrorism: Mohamed Fahmy

For 438 days, Mohamed Fahmy was locked away in Egypt's notorious Tora prison, living side-by-side with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Egyptian-Canadian's arrest, trials and eventual release, garnered international attention. A strange turn of the camera for the award-winning journalist. But his jail experience, along with his war coverage, has given him riveting insight into the Age of Terrorism, delivered in his compelling 2016 Dalton Camp Lecture.
Mohamed Fahmy (Penguin/Random House)
Listen to the full episode54:00

For 438 days, Mohamed Fahmy was locked away in an Egyptian jail, including solitary confinement in the brutal Scorpion wing of Cairo's Tora Prison, living side-by-side with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and ISIS. He was accused of being a terrorist, when in fact, he was simply being a journalist. The Egyptian-Canadian's arrest, trials and eventual release in 2015, garnered international attention. **This episode originally aired January 31, 2017.

Mohamed Fahmy on a book he read in prison that gave him strength and hope 1:08


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Mohamed Fahmy was born in the Middle East, but moved to Canada with his family as a teen.

"..my dad was craving something that's not really available in the Middle East values -  such as real democracy and freedom of expression and the ability to just have the freedom to think and not worry and look behind your back all the time."

After college, he felt the need to return to the Middle East. In March 2003, much to his mother's dismay, he entered Iraq on the first day of war, working for the Los Angeles Times as a reporter/booker. Since then he has reported extensively on the Middle East and North Africa. In 2012, he was part of the CNN team that won a Peabody award for their coverage of the Arab Spring.

Mohamed Fahmy along with producer Baher Mohamed, left, and correspondent Peter Greste, right, appear in a Cairo court during their trial on terror charges. (AP)
But it was his role as Egypt Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera English in 2013 that was perhaps his most dangerous journalist venture. Not long after being appointed, Fahmy and two of his Al Jazeera colleagues -- Egyptian, Baher Mohamed and Australian, Peter Greste -- were arrested and thrown in prison. The Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi falsely branding them Muslim Brotherhood terrorists.

"I remember walking into the terrorism wing and just seeing all these people I've only read about: one guy who had spent time with bin Laden in the caves; Mohamed al-Zawahiri, the guy I interviewed was there; members of Morsi's presidential team. People I've been quoting and watching on TV and now we're all dressed in white in solitary confinement."

A strange turn of the camera for the award-winning journalist. But his jail experience, along with his war coverage, has given him riveting insight into Media in Age of Terrorism --  the title of his 2016 Dalton Camp Lecture in Journalism, held at St. Thomas University, in Fredericton.


Web Extra 
Listen to an excerpt from Mohamed Fahmy's new book: The Marriott Cell -- about a mock radio show, held in solitary confinement, in which Mohamed Fahmy and his Al Jazeera colleague Baher Mohamed interview notorious Islamist fundamentalists. It's read by co-author Carol Shaben.
An excerpt from Mohamed Fahmy’s new book, "The Marriott Cell" 9:00

 

Further reading: 

  • The Marriott Cell, by Mohamed Fahmy with Carol Shaben, Random House Canada, 2016
     
  • Baghdad Bound, Mohamed Fahmy, Trattford Publishing, 2004


Related websites:


 

**This episode was produced by Mary Lynk.

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