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As part of the closing seminar of the project in October, CFI and the Samir Kassir Foundation came together to award the Naseej Prize, which is given to the best article or report on a subject relating to cultural and ethnic diversity in Iraq, Syria or Lebanon.
Among the 45 entries received, the panel selected the report written by the journalist Safaa Khalaf, which was published in Assafir Al Arabi in July. This long article, which has been extremely well documented, reports on the recent liberation of Mosul by focusing on the future that awaits it. It describes the city's history over the centuries and the cultural diversity and social fabric that have forged its own particular identity, and examines what the future might hold for this city which, following its brutal occupation by Daech, has seen all the minorities that once populated it wiped out. Safaa Khalaf is an Iraqi journalist and writer originally from Basra, and is currently in exile in Lebanon. Much of her work focuses on the political changes and the rise to power of Shiite militia groups in her home city, for which she has received death threats. She is the winner of the 2017 Naseej Prize, and with it €4,000.
However, given the sheer quality of the entries and just how close the finalists were to each other, the panel decided to award a second prize of €1,000 to the article written by the Egyptian journalist Soad Aboghazey, published on the news website Akad News. This in-depth article, which has a very original perspective, reports on the ordeals suffered by the Yazidi women who were once held captive by Daech, and the crucial issue of reintegrating them in their own society. Soad Aboghazey also looks into how this matter has been reported by the Egyptian media, and the doublespeak emanating from the religious authorities concerning the sexual enslavement of Yazidi women.
CFI will shortly be publishing the competition's ten best entries received, in Arabic, French and English.