IWMF Concerned by Online Attacks Against Reem Abdellatif
The International Women’s Media Foundation is alarmed by the ongoing online abuse against Egyptian-American journalist Reem Abdellatif. As online violence proliferates globally, Abdellatif’s case underscores the need for local and international authorities as well as social media platforms to take action against these attacks.
Abdellatif has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights, human rights and press freedom in the MENA region. After publishing the story “How I escaped Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom that terrorizes women,” in Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Abdellatif was subjected to vicious trolling on Twitter. She reports many of the abusing accounts claimed to be from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Gulf.
Currently based in the Netherlands, Abdellatif has reported this abuse to Dutch authorities, as well as to Twitter. In an email to the IWMF, Abdellatif confirmed that despite her ongoing concern for her safety, neither entity has responded to her claims.
Abdellatif’s situation must be treated with severity. We urge the Dutch police to quickly and thoroughly investigate these attacks and encourage authorities to develop new mechanisms to take legal action against online abuse.
Further, we call on Twitter and all social media platforms to adopt robust measures to protect women journalists online and initiate heightened penalties to crack down on trolls. No journalist should fear for their safety while doing their job – these attempts to censor and intimidate journalists online threaten press freedom and cannot continue with impunity.