Idris Muktar Ibrahim: How Social Media Posts Cost Kenyan-born Journalist Job At CNN

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Idris Muktar Ibrahim: How Social Media Posts Cost Kenyan-born Journalist Job At CNN
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Social media never forgets and this is what Idris Muktar Ibrahim a Kenyan born TV producer discovered. He lost his job at CNN after his two provocative tweets were unearthed by HonestReporting editor Akiva Van Koningsveld exposing his anti-Semitic sentiments online.

In one of the posts, he refers to the Palestinian militant group Hamas as “modern-day freedom fighters” who are “defending their land” adding the U.S.-designated terror organization that governs the Gaza Strip is “entitled to armed struggle.”

In another tweet, he takes a slide at Argentine footballer Leonel Messi for supporting Israel: 

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“shifted to team Germany after finding out that Messi supports Israel. #teamHitler” 

These two posts he made in 2014 came to haunt him 8 years later. So who is Idris Muktar Ibrahim?

Early Life

Sharing his fall from grace because of tweets he made when he was a teen, the journalist recounted to the Daily Nation his childhood in the slums of Korogocho in Nairobi. His father was of Somali heritage while his mother was originally from Ethiopia.

The family made do with a cramped dwelling that was made from rusty metal sheets, a common sight in Kenyan slums. His father died in the hands of robbers while he was protecting his place of work where he was a security guard. This is what spurred him to the world of journalism. 

Education 

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His interest in media was further reinforced when he met a news team filming a story in Korogocho when he was 18 years old. He got a scholarship at the United States International University (USIU). He looked for internship opportunities in media houses and quickly rose from an intern to a fixer to a producer. All this time he was a student. 

After graduating from USIU, he freelanced for CNN on various stories and learnt a lot in the process.

Career

At the age of 25 years, his career was on an upward trajectory. His career saw him interact with the who is who in Kenya. He recalls how Equity Bank’s Group Managing Director, Dr James Mwangi brought a helicopter to fly his team to his hometown to film the journey of Equity. 

He was hired by Germany broadcaster Deutsche Welle as a junior correspondent for East Africa in 2020. Idris Muktar Ibrahim was making moves locally and regionally. 

His star kept rising as he got accepted to the University of California, Berkeley, to pursue a Journalism and Documentary Master’s programme, with a full-ride scholarship. 

Awards

He went on to be awarded Mastercard Fellowship, Human Rights Center Fellowship, and the Foreign Correspondent Award.

Dream job

With the stars aligning in his favor, the budding producer was hired at CNN as a Newsdesk Producer on the international desk in Atlanta. His life was what you could call a success story until he contributed a piece about the Israeli elections, prompting a pro-Israeli media watchdog to investigate him. 

Waterloo

The piece led the Israeli media watchdog to dig into tweets and it was posts he shared in 2014 that threw him under the bus. They called for his firing and that’s how he found himself out of a job he loved.  

A CNN spokesperson said of the firing, 

“Idris was employed as a freelancer by CNN. We were not aware of these tweets, which were published before we began working with him” 

“We have informed him that we will no longer be working with him in the future.”

An apology from Idris Muktar Ibrahim was seemingly not sufficient, 

“In 2014, I wrote some ignorant and hurtful tweets. I regret having done so and unreservedly apologize for the pain my words caused, especially to the Jewish Community. They were offensive and I must take responsibility. I was young, new to social media, and blurted out.”

Read is story on Saturday Nation 

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