Yosri Fouda

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Yosri Fouda (Arabic: يسري فودة, alternative spelling: Yusri Fuda, ca. 1967-) is an Egyptian talk show host and journalist. He is best known for his show Akhir Kalam (the Final Word), which airs on the privately owned channel ONTV and the series Sirri lil-Ghaya (Top Secret), produced by al-Jazeera.
Yosri Fouda (Source: BBC)

Fouda was born in a small village near Tanta, Egypt. His father was a physician.[1]

Fouda lives in Maadi, Egypt.


Contents

Education

As a child, Yosri Fouda went to a kuttab, an Islamic elementary school that teaches Qur'an. Fouda graduated from Cairo University with a degree in journalism and later worked as an assistant lecturer at the University.[2] He received his master's from the American University in Cairo in 1992.[3] He then went to Holland, where he received a diploma in TV production. He began to pursue a PhD in Documentary Studies from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, but did not complete his studies so he could work for BBC.[4]


Career

Yosri Fouda was part of a team that established the BBC Arabic service in 1994 and served as the senior roving reporter. The Arabic service was shut down two years after it was established, but Fouda had already covered many important stories, including the Middle East peace process, conflicts in Africa and the war in Bosnia. In 1996, Fouda "moved to the London headquarters of Associated Press TV, co-founding the Middle East desk to provide Arab channels with tailored news reports." He also helped set up the London-based Arab News Network (ANN) and worked as UK and Western Europe correspondent for al-Jazeera. One year later, he became bureau chief of al-Jazeera's production office in London. Fouda had his own investigative series, Sirri lil-Ghaya (Top Secret), which was very popular among Arabs. The series won an award from the 1998 Cairo Radio and Production Festival for its in-depth and candid coverage of oftentimes sensitive issues.[5]

Interviewing Leaders of al-Qaeda

In September 2002, Fouda interviewed the leaders of al-Qaeda who claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2011 attacks against the US. Earlier that year, Fouda received an anonymous call from a man who invited him to go to Pakistan for an exclusive report on the occasion of the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.[6] Fouda took the chance and went to Pakistan. When he arrived, he was blindfolded and taken to a secured location, where he found Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, al-Qaeda military commander, and Ramzi bin al- Shibh, one of the orchestrators of the September 11 attacks, waiting for him. Fouda wrote about his experience interviewing Khalid and Ramzi:

"They say that you are terrorists," I surprised myself by blurting out. Calm and serene, Ramzi just offered an inviting smile. Khalid answered: "They are right. That is what we do for a living." Ramzi then said: "If terrorism is to throw terror into the heart of your enemy and the enemy of Allah then we thank Him, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, for enabling us to be terrorists."
Khalid outlined the conditions for my interviews. I was not to mention how we communicated, nor reveal their "real" code-names. "When they ask you what we now look like, you will say we have not changed at all since the photos they will show you were taken." I was asked to place my right hand on a copy of the Holy Koran and solemnly swear to this.
Summoning every thread of experience and courage, I looked Khalid in the eye and asked: "Did you do it?" The reference to September 11 was implicit. Khalid responded with little fanfare: "I am the head of the al-Qaida military committee," he began, "and Ramzi is the coordinator of the Holy Tuesday operation. And yes, we did it."[7]

Fouda later coauthored the book Masterminds of Terror: The Truth Behind the Most Devastating Attack the World Has Ever Seen (2003) with British journalist Nick Fielding. It was after this interview that Yosri Fouda became better known to the West.[8]

Leaving Al-Jazeera and Returning to Egypt

In 2009, Fouda announced his resignation from al-Jazeera. He left the channel because he did not particularly agree with the way the channel was being run administratively and editorially. "And it got to a point where I felt I couldn’t add to what I had already contributed. Another important reason was that I knew something was stirring in Egypt. I didn’t know what role I could play, but I wanted to be part of what was happening. I could have stayed in London and worked at another organisation or accepted some very tempting offers from Al Jazeera’s rivals, but I wanted to come back to Egypt. And of all the offers I had, I went for the smallest one with the smallest channel."[9] In 2010, Fouda got his own show on ONTV, the satellite channel owned by prominent Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris.[10]


Role in the Revolution

Yosri Fouda supported the Revolution from the outset, but did not join the protests in Tahrir, because he was on air almost everyday. During the eighteen days, Fouda camped out at the ONTV studio, on the outskirts of Cairo, to cover the events as they unfolded. "I managed to also have a look at Tahrir Square every now and then on the way to the studio," he said. "I would have loved to have camped out in Tahrir but I had another role to play. And I hope I contributed through my coverage of the revolution."[11]

On BBC's HARDtalk, Fouda said he felt liberated as a journalist and a citizen during the Revolution. "Those days were full of tremendous hope. And you lived it minute by minute. And you see your people who for such a long time, everybody believed that Egyptians are servile and they wouldn't revolt [sic]... And to see if for yourself and to actually be part of it, was a moment of great pride." [12] But Fouda felt that very little had changed in Egypt since the Revolution, "Yes, we've gotten rid of Mubarak, Gamal Mubarak, their cronies... But I look at the country now and what happened in Tunisia, and I see more of the fulool, the main corps of the- I can't even call it ex-regime because the regime is still very much with us.. [I]t's all about preserving the old regime, because the regime never went away...There was a Revolution," Fouda argued. "I am just so proud that the people, just to come out and express what you actually feel about your country and you try to do something about it and at a certain point in time, you topple the head of the state in itself is [an achievement]."[13]

Reportedly, Fouda's daily show was rated first in Egypt during and after the Revolution.[14]

Canceling His Show in Protest

On October 21, 2011, Yosri Fouda issued a statement on his Facebook page announcing his decision to cancel his show indefinitely "to protest what he said were efforts by the country's military rulers to stifle free expression":[15]

There are three things I always try to be mindful of: my conscience before God, my duties toward my country, and my attention to the principles of my profession. My commitment to these ideals have moved me to issue the first press release of my life, after a journalistic career nearing 20 years. I issue this release for those who care and in appreciation to those who have honored me with their trust. I also do so out of self-respect.
The last nine months of my career are the dearest to my heart, following a beautiful revolution in our country — a revolution that many of us feel some don’t want to remain beautiful [sic]. And it is no secret that the pre-revolution mentality is still imposed on us, as it was before, and maybe worse now. This is not why people gave their lives, their eyes, and their body parts. For the freedom of this country and the dignity of living, every honest man needs to take a stand.
My stand, as a citizen who is afraid for his country, is limitless. But my stand today as a journalist motivates me to observe the clear decline in the freedom of professional media, compared to complacence towards cheap and propaganda-style journalism. This decline and this complacence stem from a belief by the powers that be that the media can deny an existing reality or create one that does not presently exist. That is the main issue, and that is the larger context that I do not wish to be a part of...I have numerous reasons moving me to cancel my show Akher Kallam indefinitely. This is my form of self-censorship. I have the choice between saying the truth or nothing at all.[16]

Fouda's show aired again on November 13, 2011, three weeks later. Fouda featured writer Alaa Al Aswany and journalist Ibrahim Isa, both of whom were supposed to be guests on Akhir Kalam the day Fouda decided to suspend his show.[17]

On May 10, 2012, Fouda and fellow journalist Muna Al-Shazli moderated a historic presidential debate between presidential hopefuls Abdel-Moneim Abol-Fotoh and Amr Moussa.[18]

In late June 2012, Fouda abruptly suspended his show Akhir Kalam again. He later tweeted, “I’ve stopped my show because I respect you, the details concern me alone. The only thing that matters for the viewer is my work."[19] Fouda resumed his show in September 2012.


References

  1. "Yosri Fouda: The Accidental Hero." Enigma Magazine. November 29, 2011. http://www.enigma-mag.com/interview_archives/2011/11/yosri-fouda-september-2011/ Accessed March 19, 2012
  2. "Yosri Fouda on His Career- Engima Magazine Exclusive." Youtube. September 2, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEsv4VU6X1M March 19, 2012
  3. Fahim, Ghaydaa. "The Unsweetened Truth". AUC Today. Issue: Spring 2011. http://www1.aucegypt.edu/publications/auctoday/AUCTodaySpring11/12.4_The_Unsweetened_Truth.htm Accessed March 20, 2012
  4. "Yosri Fouda on His Career- Engima Magazine Exclusive." Youtube. September 2, 2011
  5. "Alumni Spotlight: Yosri Fouda". The Adham Center. http://www.kpd-online.info/profiles/fouda.htm Accessed March 19, 2012
  6. "Yosri Fouda On the Media With Amy Goodman 1/3". Youtube. August 10, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4evQ0PDZxLc Accessed March 19, 2012
  7. "We left out nuclear targets, for now". The Guardian. March 4, 2003. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/mar/04/alqaida.terrorism Accessed March 19, 2012
  8. "Yosri Fouda: The Accidental Hero." Enigma Magazine. November 29, 2011
  9. "Yosri Fouda: The Accidental Hero." Enigma Magazine. November 29, 2011
  10. "Albert Shafik (August 2011)". Enigma. September 5, 2011. http://www.enigma-mag.com/interview_archives/2011/09/albert-shafik-august-2011/ Accessed March 21, 2012
  11. Yosri Fouda on Egypt's Revolution- Enigma Magazine Exclusive." Youtube. September 2, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49hB2taANPY Accessed March 19, 2012
  12. "Are the forces of oppression making a comeback in Egypt ? - Yosri Fouda in HARDtalk." Youtube. October 31, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx2Qti5ynuM Accessed March 19, 2012
  13. "Are the forces of oppression making a comeback in Egypt ? - Yosri Fouda in HARDtalk." Youtube
  14. "Yosri Fouda". Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism. http://arij.net/en/conference/speakers Accessed March 21, 2012
  15. El Deeb, Sarah. "Yosri Fouda, Prominent Egyptian TV Host, Suspends Talk Show In Protest." AP. October 21, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/yosri-fouda-prominent-egy_n_1024075.html Accessed March 17, 2012
  16. "Statement of Journalist Yosri Fouda: Telling the Truth or Staying Silent." Al-Akhbar English. October 22, 2011. http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/statement-journalist-yosri-fodah-telling-truth-or-staying-silent Accessed March 17, 2012
  17. "Akhir Kalam: 9 Shuhur.. Ayna Kunna wa ila Ayna Intahayna." Youtube. November 13, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZ-e7QLqjUs&feature=relmfu Accessed March 21, 2012
  18. "Egyptian presidential election TV debate – as it happened." The Guardian. May 10, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/may/10/egypt-presidential-election-debate?newsfeed=true Accessed May 12, 2012
  19. Tarek, Hend. "Yosri Fouda goes off air". The Daily News Egypt. June 21, 2012. http://beta.thedailynewsegypt.com/2012/06/21/yosri-fouda-goes-air/ Accessed June 24, 2012


Other References

"Akhir Kalam: Yosri Fouda fi Diyafat Bassem Youssef." Youtube. August 17, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc0duJ4rsew Accessed April 2, 2012.

El-Rashidi, Sarah. "Egypt's revolution through the eyes of Yosri Fouda". Ahram Online. August 2, 2012. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/49229/Egypt/Politics-/Egypts-revolution-through-the-eyes-of-Yosri-Fouda.aspx Accessed August 3, 2012.

Fouda, Yosri. "Yosri Fouda Yaktub lil-Masry al-Youm: Qabl an Yakuna Haqqam.. Akhir Kalam." Youtube. October 29, 2011. http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/509988 Accessed March 19, 2012.

"Liqa' Muna Al-Shazli ma` Yusri Fouda Hawl Maqtal Usama bin Laden wa Tahlilat Hamah Giddan." Youtube. May 2, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-vfTua11ZE Accessed March 19, 2012.

"ONTV's Yosri Fouda suspends Egypt show over alleged censorship". Ahram Online. June 21, 2012. http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/0/45748/Egypt/ONTVs-Yosri-Fouda-suspends-Egypt-show-over-alleged.aspx Accessed June 25, 2012.

"Reem Maged wa Yusri Fuda ila al-Qada' al-Askari". Al-Shorouk. March 7, 2012. http://shorouknews.com/news/view.aspx?cdate=07032012&id=c26b977c-7d8a-4ca8-9b94-d8709f0edc7f Accessed March 19, 2012.

Schleifer, Abdallah. "Interview with Yosri Fouda." TBS. Fall- Winter 2003. http://www.tbsjournal.com/Archives/Fall03/Yosri_Fouda.html Accessed March 19, 2012.

"Thawrat al-Ghadab 2011- Yusri Fouda: Muhandis Hasaballah Al-Kafrawi." Youtube. February 12, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4vrfdZjI1c&feature=plcp&context=C4f24418VAvjVQa1PpcFNe4e-VlWXS1cWNO1zXe79Jn7PDb16qb0E%3D Accessed March 19, 2012.

"Yosri Fouda." Wikipedia. January 4, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosri_Fouda Accessed March 21, 2012.

"Yosri Fouda man Yatakallam ma` Shabab Midan al-Tahrir 31." Youtube. February 5, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XleaxUcgIWw&feature=plcp&context=C423f4baVAvjVQa1PpcFNe4e-VlWXS1aYvKPrjQg-MQ9MORAoaSAY%3D Accessed March 19, 2012.

"Yosri Fouda on Al Qaeda Masterminds." American University in Cairo. http://www.aucegypt.edu/news/Pages/NewsDetails.aspx?eid=124 Accessed March 21, 2012.

"Yosri Fouda on His Personal Life (the Enigma Questionnaire- Enigma Magazine Exclusive)" Interviewed by Yasmine Shihata. Youtube. September 2, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKUsMtVGRPI Accessed March 19, 2012.


Resources

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yosri-Fouda/235481147984

Yosri Fouda's Twitter account: @YosriFouda

Yosri Fouda's Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/yosrifouda

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