Fakhri Karim Ahmed

Name:  Fakhri Karim Ahmed
 
Year of Birth:  1942
 
Employment history
 
- A journalist since 1959 and became the youngest member of the Iraqi 
 
journalists union, headed at the time by the known poet Mohammed 
 
Mehdi al Jawahiri, when he joined the union that year.
 
- Founder of the Ibn al Shaab publishing house, which was his first major 
 
venture in the media business.  The enterprise failed for lack of 
 
experience and gullibility regarding the function of a publishing house as 
 
an intellectual and cultural instrument.  However, the failure was to equip 
 
him with precious lessons and knowledge that would prove extremely 
 
useful in the future.
 
- Following the collapse of the publishing house, which coincided with a 
 
difficult political situation and increasing restrictions on freedoms, he 
 
worked at many dailies and weeklies.  Most prominent and influential 
 
among them was the al Bilad daily edited by his fellow journalist and 
 
friend Dr. Faeq Butti. He spent time also working, among other 
 
publications, at al Thabat daily owned by his friend the late Mahmoud 
 
- Launched Iraqi and pan-Arab publications at other times and in different 
 
circumstances.
 
- As an exile in ....... he founded al Nahj Centre for Socialist Research and 
 
Studies in the Arab World.  The centre published al Najh, a theoretical 
 
quarterly that became the joined tribune of Communist and working class 
 
parties in the Arab world.  Following the demise of the Soviet Union and 
 
the Communist bloc al Nahj transformed into a progressive left leaning 
 
periodical that enlisted some of the most respectable names in Arab 
 
- In...... his Communist bosses instructed him to apply for licence to 
 
publish a weekly by the name al Fkr al Jadid (the new thought), of which 
 
he then became the owner. 
 
- Editorial manager of Tariq al Shaab daily, organ of the CC of the Iraqi 
 
Communist Party when it became legal for the first time in 1973.
 
- In 1970was  elected as deputy chairman of the Iraqi Journalists Union 
 
until 1980.  Was a bureau member of the Arab Journalists Union and 
 
deputy chairman of the International Journalists Organization social 
 
committee.
 
- In...... Founded the then Damascus-based al Mada publishing house, 
 
which also published an eponymous cultural quarterly.  
 
- Sponsor of the al Mada cultural festival annually held in Syria and 
 
subsequently in Iraq as a highly successful Arab-Iraqi event drawing 
 
scores of writers, artists and other creaters from a host of countries.  
 
- Returned to Baghdad in 2003, and after a half century of full-time 
 
commitment  he decided to end his partisan ties and retire from politics as 
 
a whole thus finding time to finally engage in what he had always longed 
 
to be associated with, that is, the realm of media, culture and arts.   The 
 
mission of socio-political change in Iraq is continuing at another level in 
 
pursuit of freedom and social justice.  
 
- On 15 July 2003 he launched al Mada daily in Baghdad and al Mada 
 
House for media, culture and art with branches specialised in these 
 
activities as well as in education.  
 
- Launched the Cultural Development Fund which has been sponsoring 
 
various Iraqi and pan-Arab cultural events.  Some 500 writers have 
 
benefited from the fund grants as well as assistance given to Iraqi and 
 
Arab intellectuals in exceptional cases such as illness and other 
 
misfortunes.
 
- Initiator of “a free book to all with a newspaper” project.  Since the last 
 
century al Mada house has monthly sponsored a book printed by partner 
 
newspapers and given free to their readers.   The initiative was jointly 
 
launched by 10 newspapers in Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, the 
 
UAE, Egypt and Iraq.   The resounding success of the initiative has 
 
prompted plans to develop and expand its scope by bringing new partners 
 
to join in from the Arab countries.  
 
- Preparations are underway to launch al Mada satellite TV and radio 
 
expected in the next months.  Work is in progress to launch a news 
 
Persecution and imprisonment 
 
- In early 1959 he was banished from Habbaniya, his childhood town in al 
 
Anbar province, on trumped up political charges.      
 
- In 1962 was arrested twice with known journalists, writers and artists and  
 
sentenced to 18 months in prison where he was tortured as was the norm 
 
the n irrespective of the detainee’s age.  
 
- Took part in the mass prison breakout on 8 February 1963.  Having 
 
evaded his pursuers with another escapee, the late Mohammed al Khideri, 
 
he was able to reach Baghdad where he continued his political and media 
 
activity to be persecuted with other democrats by the then Baath party’s 
 
national guard militia. 
 
- Following his escape from the Kut prison he was re-arrested in 1965 to 
 
complete his jail term.  He escaped again while in cautionary detention to 
 
continue his clandestine activism publishing a weekly by another name 
 
and behind a different front
 
- Stayed in hiding as a fugitive until 1970.
 
-  As editorial manager of Tariq al Shaab daily, owner of al Fkr al Jadid 
 
weekly and deputy chairman of the Iraqi Journalists Union, he was 
 
arrested in 1978 by orders from Saddam Hussein to break him politically 
 
as part of a brutal crackdown targeting democratic and progressive forces 
 
in the run up to Saddam’s one-man dictatorship.  
 
- Moved to Beirut at the instructions of the Communist party leadership to 
 
do his part in organizing the return of fleeing activists.  He continue his 
 
political, media and cultural work in Lebanon where he stayed until 1982.  
 
On 28 July 1982 he miraculously survived an assassination attempt when 
 
he was shot three times in the face and the hand.  He was moved to 
 
Damascus and then to Moscow to continue the treatment begun at the 
 
American University hospital in Beirut.  The attack was planned by 
 
Barzan al Tikriti by orders from his half-brother Saddam Hussein and 
 
carried out by 10 gunmen.  
 
- In Beirut he survived several attempts on his life, including one in which 
 
his personal escort Abu Jinan was gunned down, and another in which a 
 
friend was seriously injured.  
 
- In 1996 he survived an airstrike on his vehicle when he was on his way 
 
back under cover.   
 
- Following his return to Iraq in 2003 and the launch of al Mada publishing 
 
house and its eponymous daily, he survived several assassination 
 
attempts.  In one such attempt he escaped death when the attackers 
 
missed his vehicle by centimetres hitting an escort vehicle instead.    
 
- His Baghdad office was the target of a rocket attack in which the 
 
publishing house director was wounded.  The attack took place on the 
 
anniversary of the 1982 attempt on his life.
 
- Revived the Iraqi council of peace and solidarity together with a group of 
 
public figures.  He was elected council president.
 
- Still active in the media and cultural sphere and public life as a whole and 
 
in his capacity as president of the council of peace and solidarity having 
 
retired from party politics.  
 
- A strong supporter of disinterested change to ensure human rights and a 
 
better life for the Iraqi people.

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