For his story on Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program for former Al-Qaeda recruits, Syed Nazakat (MA Journalism, 2009; ACFJ fellow) has won the International Center for Journalists’ (ICJ) Christiane Amanpour Award for Religion Journalism.
“Reborn in Riyadh” was chosen from a field of about 50 submissions from across the world. To write the story, Nazakat, special correspondent for The Week (Delhi) interviewed former Al-Qaeda members and Guantanamo Bay detainees and did research in Mecca and Medina.
Commenting on the work, Lou Boccardi, president/CEO of Associated Press, said: “This insightful story traces the blending of culture, religion and real-world issues of terrorism in an effort to bring jihadists into a peaceful society.”
BBC journalist Kristine Pommert said the piece “stood out for tackling an issue of worldwide importance from a fresh and interesting angle.”
Launched in 2011 and named after CNN’s chief international correspondent, ICJ grants the Christiane Amanpour Award for Religion Journalism to print, broadcast or online journalists who have done exceptional coverage of issues on religion. The award ceremony will be held in Washington, DC, 15 July 2013.
Nazakat was an ACFJ scholar when he took the MA Journalism in 2007. He was among the 17 students of the fifth batch of the program. In 2012, he was appointed as a member of the Washington-based watchdog Investigative Consortium for Investigative Journalists.