Al Jazeera staff in Washington, DC mourn Abu Akleh

Journalists gathered in the US capital to hold a moment of silence for their beloved colleague Shireen Abu Akleh.

Washington DC office
Abu Akleh is Palestinian American and had worked out of the Washington, DC office for a brief stint in 2016 to cover the US presidential elections [Jihan Abdalla/Al Jazeera]

Washington, DC – Journalists based in Washington, DC gathered outside Al Jazeera’s bureau to commemorate the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, as news of her killing continues to spark outrage around the world.

Despite continued COVID-19 precautions that have kept many employees working remotely, more than a dozen journalists gathered on Wednesday to hold a moment of silence for Abu Akleh, who was fatally shot by Israeli gunfire while covering events in the occupied West Bank.

Colleagues held pictures of the late journalist and passed around stickers with the slogan, “Journalism is not a crime.”

“We are here to show solidarity. Our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh worked for Al Jazeera for about two decades, she was known throughout the network both as an amazing human being and as an intrepid journalist,” Al Jazeera’s Washington, DC bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara said.

Akleh, who was Palestinian American, had worked out of the Washington, DC office for a brief stint in 2016 to cover the US presidential elections.

“Today is a terrible loss for her family, for Palestine and also here, she’s an American citizen,” Foukara said. “It’s a terrible loss for us her colleagues at Al Jazeera and it’s a terrible loss for journalism and journalists everywhere in the world.”

Akleh, 51, a veteran reporter with Al Jazeera was struck by a bullet on Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.

The White House strongly condemned Abu Akleh’s killing on Wednesday and called for a thorough investigation into her death.

Her killing, which took place while she was wearing a vest and helmet that clearly identified her as a journalist, has sparked outrage around the world.

Those who worked with her and knew her personally mourned the loss of someone they said was always professional and kind.

Wajd Waqfi White House correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic said the two had plans to meet in Jordan’s capital, Amman, for a brief holiday this year.

“I am still shocked from what happened to Shireen,” Waqfi said.

“Shireen was an amazing, gentle person who sympathised with people’s problems,” she said. “She was hardworking [person] who did not hesitate to do her duty.”

She said the last message Abu Akleh sent was an email that read: “the occupation forces have raided Jenin and we are on our way.”

Al Jazeera Media Network described Abu Akleh’s death as a “blatant murder” perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces “which intends only to prevent the media from conducting their duty”. It called on authorities to hold an impartial probe into her killing.

“She was elegant, calm and professional who knew the Palestinian conflict – its political, social and humanitarian dimensions so well,” Amjad Al Malki, executive producer at Al Jazeera Arabic in Washington, DC said.

“Shireen was very calm, but her calmness reflected such strength,” Al Malki said.

The National Press Club in Washington, DC is scheduled to hold a moment of silence for Abu Akleh on Thursday expected to be attended by journalists from various media organisations.

Source: Al Jazeera