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18 May, 2013

Arab-American Group Asks “Newseum” to Reinstate Palestinian Journalists in Memorial


WASHINGTON, May 15, 2013 (WAFA) – An Arab-American organization Tuesday called on Newseum, a Washington-based memorial for fallen journalists, to re-evaluate its decision to remove the names of two Palestinian journalists killed by Israeli airstrike from the list of fallen journalists honored at its memorial.

Newseum removed on Monday the names of Mahmoud al-Kumi and Hussam Salama, Al-Aqsa TV cameramen from the Gaza Strip who were killed when an Israeli missile hit their marked vehicle while covering the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in November, only two days after publishing their names on the list of journalists to be honored.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) wrote Newseum “to express deep concern” regarding its “misguided exclusion” of two Palestinian journalists from its memorial gallery commemorating journalists killed while reporting the news, as well as from the special event held in their honor.

“ADC calls on the Newseum to re-evaluate its decision and to include the two journalists in the gallery immediately,” it said.

Newseum came under pressure from pro-Israel groups to remove the names of Kumi and Salama from its list, which it did justifying its acts by claiming that “serious questions have been raised as to whether two of the individuals included on our initial list of journalists who died covering the news this past year were truly journalists or whether they were engaged in terrorist activities.”

ADC said in its letter that “such an investigation, which would involve deciding who is qualified to be counted as a journalist, is far beyond the Newseum’s mandate and capacity. Rather than conducting an investigation in a few days, the Newseum should rely on information prepared by top international organizations whose expertise and objectivity confer confidence in their findings.”

It said that the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers have all stated that they recognize these men to be “journalists” killed in the line duty.

“The Newseum has not shown any evidence to explain its removal of these two individuals from the memorial,” said ADC. “The mere raising of questions should not suffice to cause the Newseum to shift its position. The unfortunate truth is that, despite the facts, the Newseum capitulated to pressure and wrongfully discriminated against journalists based on their national origin and/or political affiliation by excluding the two journalists from the memorial.”

It added: “Excluding journalists because of their national origin or political affiliation sets a very dangerous precedent. It sends the wrong signal that killing some journalists is acceptable.”