I’ve known journalist D Parvaz for a decade and may never quite see the world the way she does.
But it’s worth trying.
Parvaz is a reporter for Al Jazeera and was formerly a colleague of mine for many years at the (dearly departed print version) Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper — now Seattlepi.com
She returned to Seattle this week to moderate a talk at Seattle Town Hall by Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who used Facebook to help spark the Egyptian revolution.
D Parvaz and Wael Ghonim at Seattle Town Hall
It was a great talk and Ghonim’s story is fairly well-known, as described here on NPR, in part to publicize his new book Revolution 2.0.
But a lot of the folks in the packed room would have liked to hear from D (technically, it’s ‘Dorothy’ but she prefers D). Ghonim tried to get Parvaz to talk about that moment last year when she was world famous – jailed by Syrian officials for attempting to report on protests there.
Held for nearly three weeks, first in Syria and then later in Iran after being secretly deported there for more interrogations, many think she’s lucky to be alive.
D refused to talk last night about her own experiences and perspectives, so I will. Continue reading →
Tonight, at Seattle Town Hall, Ghonim will speak on being Inside a Revolution. Moderating the panel will be D Parvaz, a reporter for Al Jazeera based out of Qatar and, before that, a colleague of mine at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Parvaz received international attention last spring when she was arrested and held for weeks in Syria after entering the country to attempt to report on the protests there.
Egypt remains in turmoil but Ghonim says he is hopeful:
“I’m very optimistic … We are basically recovering from 60 years of military rule, 30 years of dictatorship and 10 years of a very bad economic situation for most Egyptians.”
Ghonim can be expected to speak tonight in Seattle about his experience, the power and the limits of social media in popular protests and about what he believes has already been an amazing amount of positive change in Egypt. “What’s needed,” he tells the Economist, “is patience, passion and optimism.”
Dorothy Parvaz, a reporter for Al Jazeera and a former colleague of mine at the Seattle Post Intelligencer, has been released by Iranian authorities after she was detained in Syria and deported to Iran. Parvaz returned to Doha, Qatar, where she is now based.
Parvaz’ disappearance in Syria prompted a massive response, on the telephone, to Congress and the Syrian embassy and in various social media. Thousands of people across the world called for her release.
Al Jazeera has also issued a succinct story celebrating her release. I’m sure I’m not the only one awaiting to learn more details from Parvaz about her experience in captivity and the crack-down on free expression (which included cracking down on her) in response to popular protests.
Journalists take risks to make sure people’s stories are told, to shine a light on wrongdoing based on the belief that public awareness is the first step toward positive change. Today happens to be World Press Freedom Day, this year hosted by the U.S.
D, as she prefers to be known, now works for Al Jazeera English, which contrary to popular opinion has done a lot to support freedom and democracy around the world.
If you think Al Jazeera is the Fox News of the Arab world, think again. It is no friend to Arab dictators and was widely viewed (by many despots) as having done more than any Western media to provide aggressive coverage to the uprising in the Middle East at the beginning (in Tunisia) and, frankly, does an excellent job of covering the news anywhere. Continue reading →