I am a journalist based in Istanbul, Turkey, whose work has appeared in leading English-language outlets.
Between 2013 and 2015, I was based in Pakistan, and I have returned there several times since. I covered two wars in Pakistan: in the northwest, and in Balochistan. I have written about Pakistan’s dilemma of how to incorporate its religious and ethnic makeup, as well as how the government has struggled to maintain control and loyalty at its periphery, like in the north, at the edge of Central Asia. And I wrote about the fallout from conflicts, like the cases of thousands of missing persons, and the toll of US drone strikes.
In 2017, I received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to report from Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where locals lived under a 1901 law that allowed collective punishment. I was one of the few Western journalists to report from places like North Waziristan.
I have reported from other regions as well. I wrote about religious and ethnic strife in Mexico, and in Kyrgyzstan. I have also covered the ongoing effort by China to incorporate the Uyghur ethnic minority into the country, from both inside Xinjiang, and among the Uyghur diaspora outside.
I am a witness to two violent military coups — a successful one in Egypt which ended in a massacre, and one that was thwarted by civilian resistance in Turkey and has left an indelible mark on that country.
Since 2015, I have been based in Turkey, reporting on a country with a diverse social fabric that often finds itself at the center of global news. I have covered the often complicated play between religious and political groups, and the country’s ethnic and religious minorities. I have also reported from inside Syria on the war there, the rise of Islamic State, and the lives of those fleeing that conflict.
I am a recipient of a National Geographic Society Explorer’s grant for a project aiming to raise awareness of Afghan refugees: why they leave their country, and the consequences of a global community that increasingly refuses to see them as refugees.
My work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Geographic, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the Nation, IRIN News, Al Jazeera English, the Boston Review, the Daily Beast, the Globe and Mail, and other outlets. I have also occasionally done radio work, for Free Speech Radio News.
I was born in Pakistan and raised in New Orleans. I speak native-level Urdu, and can get by pretty well in Arabic and Turkish. I have an MS in Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins University.
You can reach me at umarfarooqmedia at gmail dot com.