Maan Aljizzani, Omar Al Humairi, and Alhussein Elrazzaz, 2020 winner
In this daring investigation, the team unveils the corruption of Iraqi religious leaders, both Sunni and Shia – corruption about which no one speaks openly but so many suspect throughout the country. With documents and testimony, the investigators clearly articulate the magnitude of corruption, both financial and political. The report, like much of the Investigative Units’ work, brings transparency and accountability on a subject uncharacteristic in the region’s media.
This investigation spurred significant engagement online. The audience expressed relief that religious corruption was finally acknowledged openly and supported with evidence. Appreciation was expressed for shedding light on this issue that has long-existed in the shadows of Iraqi society. Dialogue was ignited between firm supporters of the country’s religious leaders and those who hold them in contempt.
The power of the investigation prompted official outcry, ultimately resulting in a retaliatory suspension of MBN’s operations in Baghdad and its environs. While a significant price to pay, freedom of the press demonstrated by the report is invaluable.
MBN’s Investigative Unit is entrusted with digging deep into intractable, important, and until now untouchable societal issues that have been buried purposefully without discussion in the region’s media. The Unit’s reporting yields accountability and transparency on issues relevant to the region’s future. Their added value to the region’s media cannot be overstated.