“Omar did nothing to be summoned and punished. He did not swear allegiance to al-Qaeda, he did not declare an Islamic emirate, he did not kidnap journalists — as al-Joulani did. But what has happened to him is a warning to all of us (Journalists in Idleb, editor’s note).”
With these words, Mohammed, a media activist in Idleb city, commented on how Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) — which appears on terrorism lists — and its Syrian Salvation Government had summoned AFP correspondent Omar Haj Kaddour. This followed posting a picture of him on World Press Freedom Day, which depicted an earlier attack by members of HTS.
Mohammed adds: “After a few hours, Tahrir al-Sham’s media relations office released a statement saying that Idleb enjoys excellent freedom of the press standards, which are not comparable with other regions in Syria. The statement calls on international media to visit the region, with pledges that Tahrir al-Sham will protect them, but HTS has also summoned Omar and punctured his press card, as a kind of punishment for publishing that picture. They have also warned him that publishing the same kind of picture in the future will expose him to greater penalties, culminating in preventing him from reporting and working in the media once and for all.”
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A local media network conducted a survey of about 70 media activists in the Idleb governorate, most of whom agreed that Mohammed Nazzal — a Palestinian by birth, known as “Khattab al-Urduni” (Jordanian Khattab) — was mainly responsible for violations against the media.
Patriarchy and Jihadism – Syrian women journalists in Idleb
A journalist in Syria will most likely come under scrutiny from all the armed groups — from the Syrian regime to the various de facto authorities in the country. But for females, the tragedy is compounded. Women are attacked, excluded, bullied, and suffer from patriarchal mistreatment because of societal customs and traditions that often do not accept the presence of women in the media sector. These trends exist especially in areas under the control of Tahrir al-Sham, which forcibly imposes religion and patriarchal norms on women.
Marah (Etihad Press preferred not to reveal her name for security reasons) says that, when she farewells her children every day before going to work, she worries that she may not return and be kidnapped, arrested, or killed by HTS and other military forces.
“As journalists, we are at risk of dying during bombings of the governorate by Russian warplanes and Syrian regime forces, as well as the risk of assassination or kidnapping by ISIS cells or Tahrir al-Sham’s security apparatus.”
Like many female journalists, Marah faces phrases such as “Wear proper clothes” and “Why are you on the road to travel without a mahram (male guardian, editor’s note)” among other comments that stereotype the role of women in Syrian society and force them to abide by religious and patriarchal standards.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.