Huna Libya host Karima Idrissi
RNW Media/Issa Shaker

National success and international acclaim for Huna Libya

RNW Media’s radio broadcast to Libya has been selected for two major international awards. “This is a major recognition for our programme, which we only started six months ago,” says Huna Libya host Karima Idrissi.

Huna Libya is a live one-hour magazine programme, broadcast to Libya every Monday via satellite, FM and Livestream. It’s an interactive radio show catering for a young audience, who contribute through phone-ins, facebook posts or WhatsApp and Viber voice messages.

Launched on 11 May 2015, the programme has been a massive success, hitting 100K likes on Facebook and winning nominations for two major international awards.

Free expression
Huna Libya features on the Index on Censorship's long-list for the 2016 Freedom of Expression Awards, which celebrate “individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.” The programme was nominated by the public for the Journalism Award.

It’s also the public who have put Huna Libya in second place on a list of eight contenders vying for the Septimius Severus Prize in the best presenter category. This prize is awarded annually to historians and journalists whose work focuses on the importance of Libya in the history of Europe or on its present wider regional significance.

“These nominations have come very early,” says programme host Karima Idrissi (pictured), who is visibly pleased with the international recognition. “We only started six months ago, and we’re still improving with every broadcast. Our audience is extremely active and committed, sending many comments and images to our Facebook account every day. Their engagement is impressive. They simply love our Facebook page, which has a 4.3 star review rating.”

Critical interviews
The programme has a fixed format, featuring reports, vox pops and in-depth interviews with politicians, including government ministers.

“Some of these politicians are wary of our critical approach. Sometimes, they don’t pick up the phone when we call them just before the start of the programme. Of course, we’ll tell our audience.”

Huna Libya also has a slightly Dutch touch. One of its favourite items is called “I love Libya” or “I love Holland”, positive reports from the two countries alternating every week. Their popularity has prompted local media partner Al-Wasat to turn them into videos.

The international flavour may be one of the reasons for the programme’s success, says Idrissi. “People see us as an independent and reliable source of information because we broadcast from outside the country. They also trust our partner Al-Wasat, whose owner is known for his neutrality as he has never taken sides in the conflict.”

Because she is not a Libyan national, Karima Idrissi has not been nominated for the Septimius Severus Prize. That honour has been given to co-host Suliman Al-Barouny, a former national TV presenter.

“My name is not on the list, but I don’t mind,” says Idrissi. “ What’s more important is that we are close to pole position. As for the Freedom of Expression Award, if we don’t win this time around, we certainly will next year with the way things are going at the moment.”

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