Sunday, March 27, 2011

ADALAH News Alert: Israeli Supreme Court to hold first hearing on Knesset censorship of Arab Knesset member

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27 March 2011

(Haifa, Israel) Tomorrow, 28 March 2011, at 11 am, the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem will hold a first hearing on a petition filed by Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf of Arab MK Haneen Zoabi (National Democratic Assembly-Balad). The petitioners are challenging the Knesset’s decision to revoke MK Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges for her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. The hearing will be held before justices Uzi Fogelman, Salim Joubran, and Eliezer Rivlin.

On 7 June 2010, the Knesset House Committee decided to revoke three of MK Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges, under its authority pursuant to Article 13 of the Law of Immunity of Knesset Members, Their Rights and Their Duties – 1951: (1) privileges in overseas travel enjoyed by MKs; (2) her diplomatic passport; and (3) the right for the Knesset to cover her legal fees should her immunity be revoked for the purposes of criminal prosecution. On 13 July 2010, the 120-seat Knesset plenum voted 34 in favor and 16 against to approve the House Committee’s decision.

Representing the petitioners, Adalah General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen argued that in making its decision, the Knesset had exceeded its power and acted against the Law of Immunity of MKs, which prohibits the Knesset from harming the rights of MKs for their political activity. The petitioners stressed that the Knesset had relied on the erroneous legal assumption that immunity does not protect an MK from the Knesset itself, but only from the intervention of the executive branch (i.e., from criminal indictment by the Attorney General).

The petitioners further argued that revoking MK Zoabi’s rights would create a dangerous precedent that allows the majority’s representatives to punish the minority’s representatives for political activity with which they disagree. Such a precedent could shake the foundations of the right to freedom of political expression and the right to equality for the minority’s representatives in the Knesset.

As the petitioners detailed, the House Committee’s decision followed several stormy sessions in the Knesset during which MK Zoabi was branded by fellow Israeli Jewish parliamentarians as a “terrorist” and “traitor,” and subjected to racist and overtly sexist remarks, as well as physical threats.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a multilateral political organization based in Geneva that brings together 155 national parliaments including the Israeli Knesset, denounced the Knesset’s decision on the grounds that it violates a parliamentarian’s freedom of expression rights, and called on the Chair of the Knesset to cancel the decision.

Or contact: Attorney Sawsan Zaher: 052-639-9147; Lana Khaskia: 052-325-9766

Nadia Ben-Youssef Law Fellow Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel 94 Yaffa Street PO Box 8921, Haifa 31090 Tel: +972(0)4-950-1610 Fax: +972(0)4-950-3140 Mobile: +972(0)52-580-7304 website:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

American Arab Journalists to explore Middle East protests and Other issues at annual conference in Dearborn Michigan April 30

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                 Ray Hanania
MARCH 19, 2011                                                                    
                                                                                                                        Laila alhusinni

American Arab Journalists to explore Middle East protests and
Other issues at annual conference in Dearborn Michigan April 30

Chicago/Detroit – Speakers at this year’s annual convention hosted by the National American Arab Journalists Association will address the sweeping pro-Democracy changes in the Middle East, American foreign policy towards the Arab and Islamic Worlds and the impact of Sept. 11th 2001 nearly 10 years later.

The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn and will feature panel speakers from a wide range of Arab media both from the American Arab community and the Arab World.

“There are many issues we will be discussing from the dramatic changes unfolding in the Middle East to the challenges facing American Arab and Middle East journalists right here in this country,” said Ray Hanania, a veteran Palestinian American journalist and conference co-coordinator.

“NAAJA is a non-political organization but our members write about and discuss everything including politics. Their insight in to the events around the world are important. NAAJA’s purpose is to bring everyone together to network and create a powerful voice for American Arabs of all faiths.”

Hanania, who co-hosts the weekly morning American Arab radio show “Radio Baladi” with host and journalist Laila al-Husinni, said thatspeakers have been invited from the White House and will include officials of the U.S. State Department, Arab journalists from publications in the United States and the Middle East, and activists and communicators.

“American Arab journalists are under siege,” observed alhusinni. “From Helen Thomas to Octavia Nasr, we are being targeted because of what we represent. And, what we represent is a determination to insure that the mainstream news media is fair, accurate and includes the voices of American Arabs and Muslims in their daily reporting. That doesn’t always happen.”

The conference goals are to strengthen NAAJA and launch more chapter networks in other cities. Currently, NAAJA has more than 300 members – there is no fee to join – and five chapters.

NAAJA is also hoping to launch a scholarship program for young American Arabs to help them pursue careers in journalism, and to fund the new Arab American News Wire ( which will be used to pay freelance writers to provide news and feature stories about American Arab and Muslim communities.

“We’re very good at expressing our opinions but sometimes we don’t fully document the many great things that are accomplished by members of our community,” Hanania said.

“NAAJA is hoping the Arab American News Wire will create a platform in which writers will be paid to write news and feature stories about Arabs in their communities and those stories will then be distributed free of charge to any media. The goal is to get our story out there to mainstream Americans and to our own community.”

The conference emcee this year is Warren David, president of

Registration is only $75 per person and includes lunch and dinner plus full access to all panels on Saturday and the Saturday night Gala Banquet. To register online or to get more information, please visit the official web page of NAAJA at  A link to the Dearborn conference, and past conferences, will direct you to registration.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hamas attacks Gaza news bureaus; Yemen ousts reporters

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Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, 11th Fl., New York, NY 10001 Phone: +1 (212) 465-1004 Fax: +1 (212) 465-9568
Contact: Mohamed Abdel Dayem, program coordinator. Phone: (212) 465-1004; E-mail:   
Hamas attacks Gaza news bureaus; Yemen ousts reporters

New York, March 19, 2011-Hamas security forces raided media bureaus, assaulted journalists, and confiscated journalistic materials in Gaza today, punctuating another day of anti-press attacks in the restive region. In Yemen, authorities expelled two Al-Jazeera correspondents, continuing a pattern of ousting international reporters. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns these attacks on journalists and the efforts of authorities to prevent the world from seeing and reading about crucial international affairs.

Following a demonstration in Gaza City, Hamas security personnel stormed the bureaus of Reuters, CNN, and the Japanese news channel NHK, attacking journalists, confiscating tapes, and destroying equipment, CNN and others reported. Security forces hit a Reuters employee with an iron bar, threatened to throw another out of a window, and smashed a television and computer keyboard, Crispian Balmer, the news organization's bureau chief for Israel and Palestinian Territories, told CNN and The Associated Press. Security personnel also searched CNN's offices for footage of today's demonstration, CNN said, and confiscated an NHK tape, according to NHK Jerusalem bureau chief Disuke Iijima.
"Today's attack on media offices and working journalists in Gaza is a brazen attempt to censor the news," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "Hamas must understand that violence against media, who are the eyes and ears of the people, will only erode its own legitimacy-both domestically and internationally."

Following the raid, journalists held a sit-in to denounce the government's treatment of media. This is the second attack on media in Gaza in less than a week by Hamas security personnel. On Tuesday, Hamas security forces attacked journalists as they were covering demonstrations. Multiple journalists were injured, and one was reportedly stabbed.

In Yemen early this morning, authorities expelled Al-Jazeera correspondents Ahmad Zeidan and Abdel Haq Sadah. The two journalists were dispatched to Yemen to help cover the country's spreading social unrest and the government's violent response. Both were covering events in the capital, Sana'a, as the channel's permanent local reporters spread out to provincial cities to cover events there.

Al-Jazeera reported that the government did not notify its Sana'a bureau chief of the expulsion or provide justification for its actions. The expulsion comes after Al-Jazeera's extensive coverage of events on Friday, the bloodiest day of the two-month-long uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year long rule. The violence left at least 44 civilians dead in Sana'a alone, among them Jamal al-Sharaabi, a photojournalist for the independent weekly Al-Masdar. A BBC cameraman was shot in the shoulder during the same assault, the news outlet said.

Earlier this week, Yemen expelled six other international journalists in an effort to limit coverage of the widespread revolt and the government's response. Al-Jazeera also reported that in previous weeks it has received threats to its bureaus, its employees, and their families. Some equipment has also been confiscated.
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.


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Tryp Convention Brasil 21 Center
Brasilia, Brazil

5:07 P.M. BRT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.  That action has now begun.

     In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.  That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.

     This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought.  Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Qaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi’s forces.  But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity.  His attacks on his own people have continued.  His forces have been on the move.  And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.

     I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it.  I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly.  But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

     So we must be clear:  Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced.  That is the cause of this coalition. 

     As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners.  And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.

     As Commander-in-Chief, I have great confidence in the men and women of our military who will carry out this mission.  They carry with them the respect of a grateful nation. 

     I'm also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community. 

     I've acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress.  And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed.  But make no mistake:  Today we are part of a broad coalition.  We are answering the calls of a threatened people.  And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.

     Thank you very much.


Friday, March 18, 2011

DC: Libyan Pro-Democracy Activists to Ask President to Support New Government

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DC: Libyan Pro-Democracy Activists to Ask President to Support New Government

(Washington, DC, 3/18/2011) -- On Friday, March 18, the Libyan Ambassador to the United States H.E. Ali Sulaiman Aujali, along with the Deputy Libyan ambassador to the U.N. H.E. Ibrahim Al Dabbashi, Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, President of the Center of Islam and Democracy, and Aly R. Abuzaakouk, Director  of Libya Human and Political Development Forum, will hold a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to Call on President Obama to support the pro-democracy and anti-Gaddafi forces represented by the National Transitional Council in Libya.

WHAT: Call to Support to the Libyan People
WHEN: Friday, March 18, 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: The National Press Club, the National Press Building N.W., The Murrow Room, Washington, D.C.
CONTACT: Aly R Abuzaakouk, 301-528-9816, E-Mail: , and Dr. Radwan Masmudi at 202-251-2026,

The open letter to President Obama has been signed by more than 1500 pro-democracy activists.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


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Screening at the U.N. General Assembly Followed by Intercultural Dialogue

New York, NY – March 15, 2011 – Last night, the president of the U.N. General Assembly hosted the U.S. premiere of director Julian Schnabel’s latest film, “Miral.” Based on the autobiographical novel of the same title by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, the film stars Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) as a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem who confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life.

Following the screening, renowned journalist Dan Rather moderated a panel discussion with Schnabel and Jebreal; Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli Air Force Captain who refused to continue flying missions over the occupied territories; Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York; and Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-born journalist and speaker on Arab and Muslim issues.

Rather called the film “moving” and then asked Schnabel, who has faced criticism from some Jewish organizations and the Israeli government over the film’s portrayal of Israelis, why he made a film about a Palestinian girl.

Schnabel noted that as a Jewish man whose mother was the president of the service organization Hadassah in 1948, “I love the state of Israel. I am about preserving it, not hurting it.”  He added, “I think that if you listen to the other side there might be a chance of making peace. Because the situation as is, cannot continue. This is wrong.”

This sentiment was echoed by Rabbi Irwin Kula, who praised the film’s personal story as an example of innovative peacemaking.

“After 63 years of conventional diplomatic efforts, we’re pretty far away right now,” the rabbi said. “The conflict has literally crowded out the possibility of empathy on all sides.”

In contrast, he said, a film allows people to experience empathy for a character. “As everyone knows you can’t have understanding without empathy. And this film is fundamentally a meditation on empathy.”

Former Israeli Air Force Captain Yonatan Shapira responded to concerns that the film depicted Israelis in a negative light by saying that the few instances of aggression in the film were minor in comparison to what is actually happening today in the occupied territories.

“It’s a very, very moderate movie,” Shapira said, noting that the Israeli Air Force has been dropping white phosphorus bombs on Palestinian areas, killing children.

“We have to stop it right now,” Shapira said. “Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, liberating the oppressed is also liberating the oppressor. So when the Palestinians are free, the Israelis will also be free.”

Mona Eltahawy linked the recent uprisings in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other Arab countries to the Palestinians’ search for self-government, citing today’s plans for peaceful demonstrations for Palestinian unity and autonomy in Gaza and the West Bank.

“People forget that the Palestinians have a long history of nonviolent struggle,” Eltahawy said. “The violence has been held up as a role model, but we don’t hear about all the years of peaceful struggle.”

She praised Jebreal for making a film from the perspective of women, whose voices are not often heard in news coverage of the Middle East. “Women’s stories are the stories that are silenced the most. I salute you Rula, for your honesty and your courage.”

Jebreal credited Hind Husseini and the education she received at the Dar El Tifl orphanage in Jerusalem with helping her to survive the pain and loss of her youth. But she noted sadly that today the orphanage houses very few Palestinian girls, not because there is a lack of needy children but because they cannot travel across the wall that divides the Palestinian and Israeli areas.

Without education, she fears, young girls will be forced into marriage, slide into prostitution, or be used by radicals.

“Should we be attacked for making this movie and talking about this subject, or is the problem that this subject has existed for 63 years?” Jebreal asked.

“Miral” will be released in select theaters in NY and Los Angeles, by The Weinstein Company on March 25, 2011.

For a Preview, Synopsis, Filmmaker Bios, and notes on the Cast & Crew, visit:


Friday, March 11, 2011


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Dingell Warns King Not To Be Like McCarthy
Says American Muslims should not be singled out in his investigation of extremism

Washington, D.C. – Today, Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, John D. Dingell (D-MI15) testified at the Homeland Security hearing entitled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response.”  Below are his prepared remarks and a link to a video of his testimony.

 “Chairman King and Ranking Member Thompson, thank you for having me at this hearing focusing on the so-called radicalization of the Muslim community and the community’s response.  I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about the Muslim American community I know and represent, a community that demagogues continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent to the detriment of all of us.

“I am the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 15th Congressional District. I have spent a lifetime working for the betterment of the people of my district and this great Nation that I love. My constituency is diverse and makes up a variety of ethnic and religious groups, including one of the largest Arab and Muslim American populations in the Nation. Most of these individuals live in Dearborn, Michigan, a fine city located on the edge of Detroit.

“America is great because of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution and because of its diversity.  We are a Nation of immigrants from all walks of life who have come together under the motto of the Great Seal, E pluribus unum. “Out of many, one.” 

“The hearing today is focusing on a religious community that I do not recognize. Muslims who first emigrated to Michigan over a century ago--be they of Lebanese, Yemeni, Palestinian, Iraqi, or Egyptian descent--like other immigrant groups, came to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their children. These immigrant groups, like many others, assimilated into the fabric of American society. They are our friends, neighbors, family, teachers, doctors, lawyers, public employees, business partners, waiters, and store clerks.  They are overwhelmingly loyal and patriotic Americans.

“Muslim Americans work at institutions like ACCESS, an organization providing employment, training, and social, community and mental health services throughout Southeast Michigan. Muslim Americans are our elected officials like State Representative Rashida Talib. They are our first responders, like Ron Amen, who served for over 30 years in the Wayne County Sheriff Department.  And, like other Americans, Muslims work at organizations like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, standing up for the civil rights of their fellow Americans. They participate in the political process, take their kids to the zoo, and do community service projects on the weekends.

“They also join the military to defend our country and some, like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, die fighting for our country. 

“Importantly, unlike the allegations we have heard from the Chairman, we know the Muslim American community works with law enforcement officials on the local, state, and national level to fight extremism.  Just yesterday, Southeast Michigan’s Muslim and Arab American community leaders and federal law enforcement held a “BRIDGES” meeting, part of monthly meetings this community has held since the 9/11 attacks.  BRIDGES, which stands for Building Respect In Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity, is a channel for constructive cooperation and coordination between representatives of the Arab and Muslim American communities and law enforcement agencies.  This type of dialogue is happening in Michigan and as the Triangle Center report on “Muslim-American Terrorism since 9/11” finds, cooperation is taking place throughout our country.  According to the study, “tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.”

“Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, our Nation was set on two divergent courses: On the one hand, Americans of all faiths and ethnicities united. American Christians, Muslims, and Jews condemned the cowardly acts of terrorism, stood up for our values and our cherished civil liberties, and provided outpourings of help to the victims. I partnered with the FBI to help recruit fluent Arabic speakers from the Southeast Michigan community into the fight against global terrorism.  Director Robert Mueller, with whom I was working closely on this matter, indicated in a letter that the response from the community was larger than anticipated.  Our President gave a speech in which he said that the United States was not at war with our many Muslim or Arab friends, but against a radical network of terror and every government that supports it.

“Yet, at the same time, an ugly side of America showed itself.  In my Congressional District, then the 16th District, by September 18, 2001, there were more than 200 reported cases of abuse and violence directed against Arab and Muslim Americans. Mr. Mueller’s letter regarding Arab language recruitment responses also expressed a grave concern over the uptick in violence against individuals of Arab descent and asked for my help in encouraging the community to report hate crimes against people and property. 

“I believe this hearing has a potential to create a continuation of the fear and hatred that came after 9/11. This hearing must not be permitted to recall the evils of McCarthyism and the divisiveness and ill-will it created amongst our people.  Moreover, I wish to make unequivocally clear for the record: Islam is not a religion of division and intolerance, but a religion that values diversity and understanding. Acts of violence committed in the name of Islam are particularly offensive to the Muslim community because the perpetrators recklessly attempt to use their faith as an excuse for crimes.

“Even as I sit here, I have enormous respect and affection for you and my colleagues on this committee.  I beg you, for the sake of all of us, to guide this hearing wisely and well, and to see to it the hearing is conducted with the respect for this institution and the principles we as Americans hold dear.  If this hearing is conducted carefully, fairly, and with respect for all, especially including our Arab and Muslim Americans, good will come from it. I know and I hope that demagoguery and irresponsibility have no place in this hearing.  The good names of the Congress, members of the Committee, the witnesses, and millions of Americans – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – are in your hands. I beg you to treat them with the care, decency, and responsibility that I have always associated with you and with the ideals and best practices of the institution of which you and I have the honor to be a part.

“If you look about, you will find that violent terrorist acts are committed by all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.  Extremism and terrorism at home and imported from abroad are grave threats to our Nation.  The sources of terrorist ideology and their organization, purpose, and danger must be examined. Our response is in your hands. For the good of all of us, it must be used carefully, vigorously, wisely, and well.”

To view Congressman Dingell’s testimony, go to the video link,

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FUNATICAL: Taking Comedy to the Extreme’s “We Come In Peace” is a hip & hilarious intercultural comedy tour that breaks stereotypes about “brown people” and bridges gaps between Muslims, Jews and Christians. Comedians poke fun of stereotypes, culture and current events, which they lampoon with humor and satire

Thursday April 14, 2011
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Saturday, April 16th, 2011
Ernst Cultural Center at Northern VA Community College

HEADLINER: AHMED AHMED (“Iron Man”, “You Don’t MessWith the Zohan”, “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, “Axis of Evil” Comedy Tour, “Swingers”, “Roseanne”, MTV’s “PUNK’D”, Comedy Central, Showtime.


MATT KAZAM  (NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”, Fox, VH-1, TLC, Discover, XM Satellite)

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Young leaders of the Arab revolutions to feature at Al Jazeera Forum

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Media Release
For immediate use

Young leaders of the Arab revolutions to feature at Al Jazeera Forum

March 10, 2011 (Doha, Qatar) - Al Jazeera announced today the program for the Sixth Annual Al Jazeera Forum, taking place in Doha from 12 March – 14 March.  Building on the worldwide recognition of the Network’s coverage during recent events in the Middle East, the Forum will prominently feature the young activists, bloggers and journalists who are credited with leading revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Titled “The Arab World in Transition: Has the Future Arrived?“ the Forum will explore the complex and changing political, social and economic landscape in the Middle East and its future ramifications in light of the latest upheavals by hearing directly from those who instilled change throughout the region. 

Keynote speeches will be given by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davuto─člu, former Brazilian president Lula Da Silva, and Tariq El-Beshri the senior judge who drafted the new Egyptian constitution.

An Al Jazeera organizer said:

“Given recent events in the Arab world, we’ve naturally redrafted the programme to take into account what has happened. This is the first major opportunity these young leaders are getting to come together and interact with each other in person and share ideas. Through the forum’s website, the world at large will also have the opportunity to engage with them.”


For more information, please contact +(974)44892555

1.       The forum website is where the schedule can be viewed. Throughout the forum there will be a livestream and liveblog of proceedings
2.       The Twitter hashtag for the event is #ajforum
3.       Media wishing to attend can receive accreditation by emailing