Magazine Feature / People

Estlow Center gives Anvil award to opinion writer

Mona Eltahawy, a Muslim journalist whose work regularly appears in the Western and Arab press, was awarded the 2010 Anvil of Freedom Award on Jan. 6.

The award, which is given out by DU’s Edward and Charlotte Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of journalism.

“It is a time when it’s important that people are well informed,” said Chancellor Bob Coombe. “It is a time when good journalism is extraordinarily important.”

Eltahawy was a news reporter in the Middle East for many years before coming to the United States in 2000. Now a New York-based freelance columnist, Eltahawy publishes her work in many international and national publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

“We wanted to honor Mona for her lifetime contributions for increasing understanding between Muslim and Western worlds,” said Lynn Clark, director of the Estlow Center. “She’s used journalism in both traditional and new forms to reach new audiences and to model what it means to connect globally.”

Prior to receiving the award, Eltahawy gave a talk to about 160 students, faculty and staff who attended a luncheon at DU in her honor. She described herself as a liberal, feminist, Mulsim journalist who wants to change the way people view Muslims.

She believes images of Muslims seen by most of the world are limited to angry, violent men or pious, covered women.

“The solution is to hear from more Muslim voices and diversity in opinion,” she told luncheon attendees.

Eltahawy explained how her childhood in Egypt, youth in the United Kingdom and teenage years in Saudi Arabia led her to conclude that Muslims are a diverse group of people whose image in the mainstream media is dominated by conservative members of the culture. That realization led her into journalism and in more recent years into opinion writing.

“I wanted to get my opinion out there,” she said. “I don’t represent anyone; I just speak for me.”

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