(WASHINGTON — March 26, 2015) One year after its Baghdad bureau chief was slain, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has launched the Muhammad Bdaiwi Memorial Journalism Prize to pay tribute to his career by recognizing the best examples of radio journalism in Iraq.
“In this way, our colleague’s contribution to journalism will be remembered, and his life-long commitment to strengthening Iraq’s independent media and building a more democratic society will continue,” said Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL editor in chief.
The prize will recognize distinguished local radio reporting that supports the values of pluralism and human rights in Iraq. It will be administered in cooperation with the College of Mass Communication at the University of Baghdad, where Bdaiwi was an associate professor of journalism.
The new prize was announced during a March 23 ceremony at the University of Baghdad marking the first anniversary of Bdaiwi’s death.
Recalling Bdaiwi, whom he knew as a graduate student and with whom he worked at several media outlets after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Dean of the College of Mass Communication, Dr. Hashim Hassan Al-Tamimi, said, “[Bdaiwi] devoted his whole life to his work…His life was a constant struggle on a professional and humanitarian level.” During the ceremony, he announced that an auditorium at the College would be renamed in Bdaiwi’s honor.
Hadi Marae, who directs Iraq’s Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, a Baghdad-based media monitoring group, said that establishing a press competition in Bdaiwi’s name demonstrates the importance and perseverance of Iraqi journalists, and expressed the hope that other news organizations would follow RFE/RL’s example.
On March 22, 2014, Dr. Muhammad Bdaiwi Owaid Al-Shammari, who was known on the air as Hasan Rashid, was shot and killed at a checkpoint in the Jadriyah neighborhood of Baghdad while on his way to work at the Baghdad bureau of Radio Free Iraq, RFE/RL’s Iraq Service. His killer, a member of the Iraqi presidential guard, was tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs — radio, Internet, television, and mobile — reach influential audiences in 21 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).