Sahar Hussein al-Haideri
Sahar Hussein al-Haideri (Arabic: سحر حسين الحيدري, July 15, 1962 Baghdad – June 7, 2007 Mosul, Iraq) was an Iraqi female print and radio journalist. She was murdered by extremists on June 7, 2007, becoming the 108th journalist, including 86th Iraqi journalist, to be killed covering the Iraq War since its outbreak in 2003. (as of June 2007)
Sahar Hussein al-Haideri's career in journalism began after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the fall of Sadam Hussein's Baathist regime. A number of international news training programs were set up by media agencies throughout Iraq, including the IWPR, the Reuters Foundation and others. Al-Haideri was one of the few Iraqis to enroll in the IWPR journalism reporting and training program. The programs offered aspiring Iraqi journalists a new career direction.
Al-Haideri began work as a radio and print journalist. She began writing contributing pieces for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the media organization with whom she had been trained. She also wrote for local Iraqi press, including the Aswat al-Iraq news agency, known in English as the Voices of Iraq, a Mosul based newspaper. Her stories focused on the trauma that was beginning to overtake Iraq. Her stories included features on the increasing violence against Iraqi women, and what she called the "lost generation" of Iraqi youth due to the war. Her stories were sometimes critical of both local Iraqi government officials and the U.S. Forces, both of whom she saw as adding to the chaotic situation in Iraq. However, she was most critical of Islamic extremists who sought to use the war as an excuse to turn her adopted city of Mosul into a fundamentalist "emirate" in northern Iraq.
Her stories increasingly focused on the fundamentalists and the violence that their insurgency had brought to northern Iraq (excluding Iraqi Kurdistan). She wrote pieces concerning Islamic fundamentalist decrees that cucumbers and tomatoes must be served on separate plates because they are supposedly of different genders and that female store mannequins must have their heads covered. She also wrote of the atrocities committed by Iraqi insurgents.
Her critical reporting put her personal safety, as well as her family, in jeopardy. Al-Haideri was once saved from an attempted kidnapping because an American military patrol happened to be in the area and stopped the attack. At one point, an Iraqi extremist group linked to al Qaeda placed Al-Haideri at number four on a hit list of so-called infidels.
Al-Haideri moved her family to Damascus, Syria, in 2006 for their own safety. However, she continued to return to Iraq to file her reports. Al-Haideri, who was very committed to her chosen career, said in a 2007 interview with the UK Press Gazette that she never thought about quitting, even under the constant threats. She recently took credit on a Kurdish website for a number of news articles critical of the extremists which had been written and published under an assumed pseudonym. The editors of both the Voices of Iraq and the IWPR repeatedly implored al=Haideri to remain in Syria and stay out of Iraq for her own personal safety.
Al-Haideri was killed in Mosul on June 7, 2007 by an extremist group called the Ansar al-Sunna. She was 45 years old. Her news editors had spent three hours the day before her killing asking her to return to Damascus. Her murder was met with condemnation from the international community.
The IWPR established a journalist assistance fund in memory of Sahar Hussein al-Haideri and the work she accomplished during her career as a journalist.
In 2008 Al-Haideri was awarded posthumously the Amnesty International Media Award, for the use of new media in her work. Her article Arabic: القتل غسلا للعار يثير مخاوف تفجر صراع عراقي جديد, "Honour Killing Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict" was specifically cited by the judges.
Al-Haideri was survived by her husband and her four daughters, who were aged 11 to 17 at the time of her murder.
- The Guardian: Sahar Hussein al-Haideri
- Sahar's articles for IWPR
- IWPR: Iraqi Reporter Latest Victim of Violence Against Women Journalists
- Requiem for a Brave Woman
- The Guardian: Iraq's forgotten heroes: The death of Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein al Haideri last month illustrates the hazardous conditions the local press have to operate in
- Kuwait Times: Iraq's journalists, the forgotten heroes
- Borden, Anthony (2007-06-30). "Obituary: Sahar Hussein al-Haideri". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
- "المدير العام يدين جريمة قتل الصحافية العراقية سحر حسين علي الحيدري" [Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haidari]. Press Release No. 2007-63. UNESCO. June 19, 2007. Archived from the original on Jan 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. (Arabic)
- "News Director-General condemns murder of Iraqi journalist Sahar Hussein Ali al-Haydari". UNESCO. Jun 19, 2007. Archived from the original on Jan 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- "Amnesty announces Media Awards 2008 winners". Amnesty International UK (AIUK). Jun 17, 2008. Archived from the original on Jan 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- al-Haideri, Sahar al-Haideri AKA Arabic: سحر حسين الحيدري (Jun 5, 2007). "Honour Killing Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict". From iwpr.net. Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Archived from the original on Jan 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Arabic: سحر حسين الحيدري AKA Sahar al-Haider (Oct 1, 2007). "القتل غسلا للعار يثير مخاوف تفجر صراع عراقي جديد". menassat.com. Archived from the original on Jan 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. ""Honour Killing Sparks Fears of New Iraqi Conflict" available in the original Arabic with english translation as an option." (Arabic)