The epiphany of Said Ferjani came after his poor childhood in a pious town in Tunisia, after a religious renaissance a generation ago awakened his intellect, after he plotted a coup and a torturer broke his back, and after he fled to Britain to join other Islamists seeking asylum on a passport he had borrowed from a friend.
Twenty-two years later, when Mr. Ferjani returned home, he understood the task at hand: building a democracy, led by Islamists, that would be a model for the Arab world.
“This is our test,” he said.
After a newsroom meeting Friday afternoon to mourn the foreign correspondent who died unexpectedly Thursday in Syria, executive editor Jill Abramson headed to Beirut, according to Joe Pompeo. Shadid lived in Beirut, where his wife is also a reporter for the Times.
The White House and Secretary of State Clinton expressed condolences to Shadid’s family and the Times (a choice some criticized) while colleagues continued to honor Shadid throughout Friday, including his alma mater, with tributes like this one.
“I can’t count the number of times he got stuff that I wish we had — that we all wish we had,” said NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. “He always one step ahead of us. We were always chasing him — we weren’t quite chasing him, he was one step ahead of us. He was in one tiny village, talking to these people and coming out with these subtle, textured stories.”
Shadid’s forthcoming book, “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East,” will be released posthumously, about a month earlier than planned. || Related: CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward on the challenges of reporting from Syria (TVNewser) | Anthony Shadid was our Ernie Pyle | How the New York Times put together Shadid’s obituary | Anthony Shadid talks about journalism: ‘A narrative can play out over two paragraphs or 10′ | Shadid tributes: ‘His success was the result of grueling work’ | Shadid honored on front pages of college paper, former papers, New York Times