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On the occasion of the 13th anniversary of Samir Kassir’s assassination, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon organised on 31 May the annual ceremony for the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press. The ceremony was held in collaboration with the Samir Kassir Foundation.
The winners of the 2018 edition are:
- Opinion piece category: Miloud Yabrir from Algeria, born in 1984, who is a physician but also a journalist specialised in cultural affairs. His piece entitled “A Seat in the Dark” was published in The New Arab on 22 February 2018 and describes the intricacies of the Algerian political system through the metaphor of a cinema hall where the first Algerian constitution was written and where the developments of the country’s political movie are still unfolding.
- Investigative article category: Asmaa Shalaby from Egypt, born in 1990, a journalist at Youm7 newspaper specialised in security affairs. Her report entitled “Women of Fayoum: Tragedies of Early marriage, Rape and Harassments” was published in Youm7 on 15 May 2017. It describes the ordeal of Egyptian women in one of the country’s poorest districts, where they are subjected to the worst forms of sexual and professional abuse, slavery and female genital mutilation.
- Audiovisual news report category: Asaad Zalzali from Iraq, born in 1984, general manager of Maraya Media news agency. His seven-minute news report entitled “ISIS Children” was aired on Deutsche Welle Arabic on 7 December 2017. It sheds light on the fate of children of ISIS members, who are currently detained in camps without any form of care and deprived of all their rights.
Organised every year since 2006, the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press honours the memory of the Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir who was assassinated on 2 June 2005 in Beirut. The award is funded by the European Union and rewards journalists who have distinguished themselves through the quality of their work and their commitment to human rights and democracy. The competition is open to journalists from the countries of North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf. This year, the 193 applications that were received bring the total of participants since the creation of the award to nearly 2,100. The prize awarded in each of the three categories is of €10,000.
EU Ambassador Christina Lassen underlined that freedom of the press is not only a fundamental human right. "We believe that for any society to flourish, we need professional, talented and brave journalists like you to educate, raise awareness and blow the whistle, whenever needed", she said. "There is a growing hostility towards journalists, in some places even openly encouraged by political leaders who no longer see the media as a cornerstone of democracy, but rather as an adversary and a threat", she added.
“Hope always comes out of darkness. One only needs to read the articles and watch the audiovisual news reports of the candidates to understand that the wall of fear has collapsed and that it is impossible to rebuild it. Even if they try hard, their efforts will be worthless”, Gisèle Khoury, President of the Samir Kassir Foundation, said in her speech. “Underestimating the intelligence of people and forcing them to choose between stability and freedom will no longer be tolerated and is no longer convincing. For a long time, we believed that the sound of cannons was louder than any voice. But this era is over now. Only freedom ensures the rule of law”, she added.
As in previous years, an independent jury selected the winners. It comprised seven media professionals from Europe and the Middle East: Adnan Hussein (Iraq), Executive Chief Editor of Al-Mada newspaper; Khairallah Khairallah (Lebanon), columnist and political analyst; Rami Khouri (Jordan), columnist and professor at the American University of Beirut; Leila Shahid (Palestine), former General Delegate of Palestine at the European Union; Albana Shala (the Netherlands), Chair of the International Programme for the Development of Communication at UNESCO; Benoît Thieulin (France), Dean of the School of Management and Innovation at Sciences Po Paris; and Aidan White (United Kingdom), President of the Ethical Journalism Network.
The ceremony was hosted by journalist Nicole Hajal, a TV and radio host.
All information about the 2018 edition of the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press, the winning articles and audiovisual report, as well as biographies, articles and reports of all previous winners since 2006, are available on the website www.samirkassiraward.org.