She is one of the most remarkable public figures in Gaza, and now her work is being acknowledged with a prestigious accolade.
Journalist Asma Al-Ghoul has worked in the media for a decade, writing about life under Hamas rule as she sees it — and also doling out a fair bit of criticism to the rival Fatah movement that rules the West Bank. The International Women’s Media Foundation has announced that she is one of the four winners of its Courage in Journalism award, which will be presented in New York and Los Angeles in October.
Al-Ghoul, 30, writes for the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam, which is sometimes banned in Gaza, and she stopped updating her blog earlier this year, without explaining why. In 2007 she published an Arabic-language article strongly criticizing her uncle, who is a senior military figure in Hamas. In response to the piece, “Dear Uncle, Is This the Homeland We Want?,” her uncle reportedly threatened to kill her..
One of the few women in Gaza who doesn’t cover her hair, her personal as well as her professional conduct sometimes gets her in to trouble. In 2009 Hamas police reprimanded her for going to the beach in a mixed group, and reportedly beating men she was with.
Explaining the decision to honor her, the International Women’s Media Foundation wrote: “[A]l-Ghoul regularly receives death threats against her own life and that of her young son. She has been beaten by Hamas security forces while covering popular protests and went through a period of sleeping in her office for fear of being killed on her way home.”