IWMF revokes award from Palestinian journalist Maha Hussaini

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) has revoked the 2024 Courage in Journalism Award it had given to Palestinian journalist Maha Hussaini.

Hussaini was awarded for reporting from the Gaza strip, where Israeli forces have been launching a relentless and devastating attack since October 7, 2023, following a Hamas attack.

Her work highlights the difficulties faced by women in Gaza during childbirth and the tragic story of a young girl carrying her paralyzed brother during bombings.

On Monday, June 10, the IWMF has recognized Hussaini as one of three recipients of its Courage in Journalism Awards, which recognizes exceptional courage in reporting.

In a statement on Wednesday, June 19, IWMF said, “Within the last 24 hours, the IWMF learned of comments made by Maha Hussaini in past years that contradict the values of our organization. As a result, we have rescinded the Courage in Journalism Award that was previously given to her.”

“Both the Courage Awards and the IWMF’s mission are based on integrity and opposition to intolerance. We do not, and will not, condone or support views or statements that do not adhere to those principles.”

The decision comes following a “vicious campaign” by the Washington Free Beacon, which falsely accused her of supporting terrorism.

Taking to X on Thursday, June 20, Hussaini wrote, “I wouldn’t have won The International Women’s Media Foundation (@IWMF)’s Courage in Journalism Award 2024 this June if I hadn’t been on the ground reporting events and exposing Israeli flagrant violations under perilous conditions, all while being systematically attacked by supporters of the perpetrators.”

She continued, “Winning a prize for “courage” means being subjected to attacks and choosing to continue your work regardless. However, I regret to say that the very organization that recognized these perilous conditions and awarded me the prize succumbed to pressure and chose to act contrary to courage; they rescinded the award in a decision that would put my life at risk.”

“In fact, I’m very glad that both my winning the award and its withdrawal have starkly demonstrated the systematic physical and moral attacks Palestinian journalists endure throughout their careers.”

“However, each announcement of an award to a Palestinian journalist is systematically followed by extensive smearing campaigns and intense pressure on the awarding organizations from supporters of the Israeli occupation and the Zionist lobby. While some organizations uphold their principles and maintain their decision to honor these journalists, others, regrettably, cave to the pressure and withdraw the prizes.”

“Instead of recognizing the threats they face and contributing to their protection, a decision to withdraw a prize from a Palestinian journalist in Gaza—where over 150 journalists have been killed by the ongoing Israeli genocide—can further endanger them and increase their risk of targeting.”

She added, “I have no regrets about any posts or reasons that led to the rescinding of this award, and I will not stop expressing my views. Before being a journalist, I am a Palestinian living under military occupation, a strangling blockade, and genocide in Gaza.”

“If winning a prize entails enduring and witnessing war crimes while remaining silent, I am not honoured to receive any prizes,” Hussaini said.

“I will always be objective in my reporting, but I can never be neutral; I will always point out the perpetrators and stand in solidarity with the victims. This is what journalism is truly about.”