In mid-February 2023, Malmö City of Refuge welcomed Iraqi journalist and vet Azhar Al-Rubaie as its ninth ICORN resident. Al-Rubaie is a prominent Iraqi journalist, working with pan-Arab and international media outlets, including the BBC, Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye, VICE, and the Arab Weekly. He is a political analyst and regional expert, working with think tanks and research institutions, such The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the London School of Economics (LSE).
Al-Rubaie started his journalism career in 2014, initially working as a local freelance journalist, quickly progressing to writing for international media outlets, mostly publishing his articles in English. He has been covering a wide range of issues, including war and conflict, politics and corruption, civil unrest, press freedom, and LGBTQI+ and human rights.
Alongside being a journalist, Azhar Al-Rubaie is also a vet. Holding a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Basra. After graduating in 2016, he opened and ran a small veterinary clinic in Basra.
Throughout his journalism career, Al-Rubaie has been facing pressure, harassment, and interrogation due to his investigation and coverage of controversial and taboo issues, as well as his volunteer and activist work. Despite living under constant pressure, Azhar continued to write and publish stories on Iraq and the region until his arrival in Sweden in February 2023 where he now works from exile.
In a press release by the City of Malmö, Azhar Al-Rubaie said:
Undemocratic governments are aware free speech is much more powerful than they themselves are. They do everything in their power to control what information reaches the people. Journalists and people who stand up for different opinions are dangerous and should be censored or completely silenced, which is something that happened to me and forced me to leave Iraq.
During his ICORN residency, Azhar continues to work as a journalist and is planning on undertaking further studies to develop his media skills. He also intends on studying Master’s degree in journalism in Sweden.
Malmö City of Refuge
Malmö has been a dedicated member of ICORN since 2010. As well as Azhar Al-Rubaie, Malmö has so far hosted eight other ICORN residents. Those include Iranian journalist, writer, and women’s rights activist Parvin Ardalan, Afghan TV journalist Wali Arian, and Egyptian musician, composer, activist Yasmine El Baramawy, amongst others.