The award was presented to the native German journalist of a Moroccan father and a Turkish mother, at a ceremony recently held at the Tolerance Museum of the Californian metropolis, in front of an audience of personalities from various backgrounds. “Ms. Mekhennet has been recognized for her prolific work and her courage as a journalist and author,” noted the American center, hailing, in particular, her “central role in the resolution of the case of a major Nazi war criminal”.
Currently an international correspondent and member of the Washington Post’s “National Security Desk” team, the journalist who has worked for the New York Times and the Herald Tribune , among others, is co-author of “Eternal Nazi: Mauthausen in Cairo, the relentless pursuit of doctor SS Aribert Heim “, an investigation published in 2014, on Aribert Heim, the Nazi “doctor of death” of the Mauthausen camp considered one of the most wanted war criminals in the world.
On the run for half a century, the fugitive had settled in Cairo, under a false identity, in the mid-1970s until his death in 1992 at the age of 78 following cancer. “Souad Mekhennet can serve as a model for millions of people, regardless of their faith, belief or nationality,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and program director at the Jewish organization dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis.
In her speech, the journalist and writer recalled her journey as the daughter of immigrants living in Germany but also the values that her grandparents transmitted to her in Morocco, also noting how the late Mohammed V had protected 250,000 Jews in the kingdom of French occupying forces of Vichy and the Nazis during the Second World War.
“As ‘Commander of all believers’, he placed all ‘People of the Book’ under his protection – Jews, Christians and Muslims. Such stories should not be forgotten, even if they do not correspond to our dominant narrative, ”she said. “I now live in America and I am struck by the way people react differently to extremist attacks depending on the identity of the aggressor. Do people not perceive the same anti-Semitism with a Christian aggressor or born in the United States as with an immigrant or a Muslim? ”
Souad Mekhennet has already obtained several distinctions for her research both in the field in Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria and Libya, but also as a writer inspired by her investigations in radical circles.