Progressive Toronto photojournalist Ali Mustafa killed in Syria

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Progressive Toronto photojournalist Ali Mustafa killed in Syria

BEIRUT—A Canadian freelance photographer was killed in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after a crude bomb exploded near where he and firefighters were standing, said activists and his sister.

Ali Mustafa was killed alongside seven other people after Syrian government aircraft dropped two explosive-laden containers in the rebel-held Hadariyeh area of Aleppo, said an activist who identifies himself as Abu al-Hassan Marea.

Ali Mustafa was 29, and had done a lot in his young life.

His blog:



Issues Pages: 
Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

More news from Daily News about Ali Mustafa and also some of his recent photos from Syria.

"He just wanted the world to know about human rights and all the horrible things going on down there," Botelho said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He was passionate for the world to know."

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Excellent interview with Mustafa by Stefan Christoff back in 2013 discussing Egypt and Syria. 

via Upping the Anti

What are some of the points of the major media coverage on the war in Syria that you feel are inaccurate and should be looked at critically?

I think the first rule of the Western mainstream media has been to frame what is happening in Syria in overly simplified sectarian terms, portraying it as a war between Syrian president Bashar al Assad’s Alawite sect on one hand, and radical Sunni rebels on the other.

Although sectarianism is definitely one of the key factors at play in Syria and should not be overlooked, it’s also a problematic way of trying to understand the reality on the ground for two basic reasons. First, the origins of the conflict – the real, deep-rooted grievances against the Assad regime that led Syrians to revolt in the first place – are completely ignored in this narrative. Second, it mistakes the effect for the cause, reducing the complexity of the conflict to its simplest, lowest common denominator. As a result, the war in Syria is framed as something primordial, ahistorical, and perpetual – it is without end because it has always existed.


Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

There are a lot of people within the Canadian activist community and journalism community who knew Ali Mustafa. Justin Podur has a very touching tribute to Mustafa on his blog:

He was a journalist in the sense that he went there, wherever there was, and wrote and documented, and photographed. But he was not a journalist in any of the bad ways. There was nothing careerist about him. He never pretended at any false objectivity - he was a people's journalist and he believed in their struggles. Pretty much everything I ever saw him do, he did with this motivation. He never put himself above the people he was writing about. He put himself with them, instead.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Another lovely tribute to Ali Mustafa from Stefan Christoff via Free City Radio:

Clearly these simple words on Ali’s death fail to communicate the immense sorrow that Ali’s family and loved ones must have running through their hearts at this time. My love goes out to everyone remembering and celebrating Ali’s courageous life today.

Ali’s death is yet another wake up call, a shocking reminder to the world, on the horrifying human tragedy currently unfolding in Syria, lands where people dare to dream and struggle for liberation despite a brutal government military campaign, rooted in internationally condemned practices of collective punishment, indiscriminate killings and sustained military blockades.

Beyond tragedy Ali’s life speaks to the inspiring possibility for action in the face of immense injustice, the determined human spirit to seek and demand the impossible.




OPIRG-York is collecting money on behalf of Ali's family to bring him back home.

As a freelancer, Ali had none of the protections of a journalist affiliated with a major news organization - not in his life nor in his death. Ali’s family has had to take out a loan to cover the costs of recovering his body from Syria and bringing it home to Toronto.  The total costs including burial will be upwards of $20,000. We are urgently raising money to cover these costs.

Ali travelled to Syria to document the lives and struggles of the Syrian people who he described as “the best of people I could ever know, the worst of fates I could ever imagine.” His commitment and solidarity continue to inspire all of us. Now it's our turn to honour Ali’s memory and stand in solidarity with his family. Please donate to bring Ali home to rest in peace and power.


Thanks. I was just talking about our lack of protections in the Québec elections thread, and it continues even after death!

This lack of protection, which means hardship while working under peaceful conditions, is a matter of life and death for freelancers working in conflict zones. I must find the figures (when I have time), perhaps someone else has them, but a great number of journalists, photographers and other media workers killed - and kidnapped - in conflict zones are freelancers, precisely because we are expendable, and often willing to take more risks.

And of course in our friend Ali's case, this willingness was a matter of political and human commitment. He was deeply committed to the people and movements he reported on.