Muntaha Alshahwani is an Iraqi journalist, TV presenter and teacher. Originally trained within education from Mosul University, Alshahwani started writing for newspapers in Mosul in 2007. She wrote primarily on women’s issues, and her articles about her own struggle to get an education inspired many women in Iraq. Alshahwani took up journalistic training, including courses at the media department of Mosul University and other programmes, where she developed skills in TV programme hosting, professional media interviewing, and techniques for interviewing displaced persons and women victims of violence.
In television broadcast, Alshahwani started out as a research assistant interviewing women uncomfortable with being interviewed by male correspondents. She soon became programmes editor and producer at Nineveh of Tomorrow TV and frequently worked in dangerous conflict areas. Alshahwani joined the Al-Sharq newspaper in Erbil in 2012, and in 2013 she took up work as TV hostess on Samarra TV. Alshahwani moved from Mosul to relative safety of Erbil in 2013.
Undercover network of journalists
As the situation in her home town of Mosul developed and ISIS took over control of the city in 2014, Alshahwani helped to set up an undercover network of journalists gathering and distributing information from the city. She put together reports published by her newspaper and TV channel in Erbil. This required enormous sensitivity and the risks to the journalists involved were high. In early June 2015, one of the members of the network was captured by ISIS and executed. Alshahwani had to leave her work as TV presenter following serious personal threats to her on live broadcast, most likely because of her work to expose atrocities in Mosul through the underground news network she set up in Erbil.