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Anna Lindh Journalist Award 2006/2007

Annalisa Monfreda

Annalisa Monfreda

Country: Italy
Age: 28
Position: GEO Italia

I started working as a journalist when I was 17, writing articles for a local newspaper. At that time, I was living in a small village near Bari (Southern Italy), studying Italian Literature at the University and piano at the Music Academy. Seven years later, when I was 24, I graduated and moved to Milan, where I started working as a free-lancer for a number of magazines. I traveled around Europe and Africa, looking for stories. Then, I was hired to work on the new magazine GEO Italia. I am now part of the editorial staff, covering the South.

WHY I CHOSE THE TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE?

In the 90's, Italy received a large number of immigrants from Albania. Living in the South of the country, I got to know many Albanians and experienced first-hand the challenges of integration. At university, I read the study of an Italian anthropologist, Ernesto De Martino, on the Arberësh, a small community of Albanians that settled in Italy in the 15th century and still lives in Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily. This inspired me to compare 15th century immigration to contemporary immigration: one story that wove into another. I spent a week talking, dancing and eating with the Arberësh. I got to know a place where a particular religion and language survived for 500 years. And where Albanian immigrants could feel at home.

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Hugues Dorzée

Hugues DorzéeCountry: Belgium
Age: 34
Position: Le Soir

I graduated as a journalist from the University of Liège in Belgium and worked as a freelancer for several Belgian media houses. Since 1998 I’m working at Le Soir, the biggest Belgian daily published in French. I’m specialised in immigration and integration issues, as well as religious and social cults and beliefs. For me journalism is more than a profession, it is a passion and an adventure that I pursue everyday. I’m motivated by the contact with people, encountering diverse environments, researching and obtaining information and the constant quest for learning.

WHY I CHOSE THE TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE?

I created this series of feature articles with support from the Roi Baudouin Foundation and with the translation and expert assistance of Murat Daoudov. We spent three weeks in Istanbul and Ankara researching the story and interviewing a range of stakeholders. We felt the story was important for many reasons. For one, the importance of the Turkish community in Belgium, for another, to offer a perspective on the accession of Turkey to the European Union and the ongoing debate on the division of powers as well as several other reasons.

Mahitab Abdel Raouf

Mahitab Abdel RaoufCountry: Egypt
Age: 25
Position: Middle East News Agency

Although I studied French literature, I always wanted to be a journalist. After my graduation in 2002, I joined the French Department of Journalism at Cairo University. This gave me the opportunity to pursue internships at the Agence France Presse in Egypt and “Pelerin Magazine” in France. In 2003, I started working for the monthly French magazine La Revue d’Egypte where my winning article was published. Unfortunately, the publication of the magazine was suspended in January 2006 for financial reasons. I currently work at the Middle East News Agency in Egypt. I am passionate about the entire process of journalism from conducting interviews, to doing research and to writing up feature stories because it allows me to transmit ideas and stories to the readers.

WHY I CHOSE THE TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE?

I live next to the UNHCR office in Cairo, and every day I used to see Sudanese refugees assembling in one of the public garden in the area and demonstrating in front of the UN Commissariat. That is when I decided to write a feature story about this issue. Egypt is the home of many legal and illegal Sudanese refugees, but it is unable to provide them with the most basic necessities of life. While the problems that face these refugees are increasing day by day, the concerned institutions continue to be unable to cater to their needs efficiently or swiftly. In addition, these refugees are subject to many forms of racism and at various levels. When I immersed myself in the issue, I also noticed that the Egyptian media does not sufficiently confront the problem of this “undesired” part of the population. As a consequence, the refugees find themselves in a deadlock, forced to make an impossible choice between risking their life in returning to their country, or living in Egypt in a climate of ostracism and exclusion.

Yoav Stern

Yoav SternCountry: Israel
Age: 33
Position: Haaretz

I began studying Arabic in High School, some 20 years ago and have continued ever since with great interest in the culture which is so similar, yet so different, from mine. I did my BA at the Hebrew university in Islam and the history of the Middle East. For the last six years, I have worked as a simultaneous interpreter for the Israeli TV Channel 2 news; then, three years ago, I started working as the Arab affairs correspondent for Haaretz daily. I cover the Arab world and the Middle East and am now also covering the Arab minority in Israel. Two months before the general elections in Israel, held in March 2006, I moved to the Arab town of Umm Al-Fahm to follow the daily life of the residents and to cover the elections from there. For me, journalism is a perfect way of getting to know a lot of interesting people.

WHY I CHOSE THE TOPIC OF THE ARTICLE?

One of the main challenges in writing from Umm Al-Fahm was to show the readers, who are mostly Israeli Jews, how the lives of the residents of that town are linked to the lives of other Israelis. For many people in Israel, Umm Al-Fahm is a symbol of Islamic extremism, segregation and isolation. The reality is that whoever steps into this place with open eyes and ears will feel the diversity, the multitude of thoughts, and the rich mix of people. The three winning articles, which were part of a larger project, convey this message. Here is a family of Israeli boxing champions, ordinary people who go the gym and others who make a big effort to take a lead in social change. It is all here, in the lives of people, in the streets - very Israeli though also quite different.