Sunday, January 15, 2017

Twitter Calls for Release of South African Photojournalist Kidnapped in Syria
January 15th, 2017 - 10:44 GMT

Journalists in Syria are some of the most vulnerable in the world, facing a notably high risk of death and kidnappings. The latest victim of the trade is South African photojournalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, who was working in Syria among local and international journalists to document the conflict.

Mohamed was reportedly kidnapped in Syria five days ago, while travelling from a hospital to the Turkish border. Currently, South African-based relief organisation, Gift of the Givers, is working to ensure Mohamed’s safe release.

According to Eyewitness News, Imtiaz Sooliman from the organization says the kidnappers alleged that they represent several groups inside Syria.

“They asked if he was a foreigner, to which they said yes; they asked if he has a passport, they said yes; they asked if he is Muslim, they said yes. They then blindfolded our two drivers and drove the car with Shiraz to another place about an hour away. At that point they stopped, got out of the car, and told the two drivers ‘you may leave’.”

“Although it’s a very tense situation, we all have to keep calm to try to find out who has him. We don’t understand why he is captured, but we know that the people in Syria respect us and they love us for what we have done there.”

South Africans have taken to Twitter to call for his release, with #ReleaseShiraazMohamed being utilized.

The Comittee to Protect Journalist also joined in on the call to release Mohamed. In a statement on Twitter, CPJ MENA coordinate, Sherif Mansour, condemned the kidnapping:

"[Mohamed's] job is aimed for the world to take notice and stop the suffering of the Syrian people. Those who hold him must release him immediately and ensure his safe return to his family."

Syria is among the deadliest countries for press members to work in. In 2016 alone, 14 journalists were killed there, out of a total of 48 across the world, according to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).


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