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Samir Kassir: The message and the award
June 7, 2018
Author: Adnan Hussein
Source: Al-Arabiya English

Some think that the role of the press and the media in general is declining. This belief is borne by the fact that the extent of public freedom is on the wane in Middle East countries. Even in the developed states in the East and the West, there are manifestations of curbing freedom of expression, and the US under Trump’s presidency is not the only example.

Journalists in our countries are still considered adversaries. Government apparatuses, state institutions as well as political and religious institutions, groups operating outside the law (such as militias) and conservative groups in society all share this view.
The journalists’ main job is providing information. It is not their fault if the information annoys or shocks those who do not want people to know the truth, particularly when it undermines their selfish interests which are mostly served at the expense of other people’s rights and interests.

I was recently a part of significant work experience as the Samir Kassir Center for Media and Cultural Freedom in Lebanon (SKeyes) honored me by making me a member of its jury for the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press.

The award is named after Arab journalist and academic Samir Kassir (of Palestinian father and Syrian mother and who lived in Lebanon) who was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut in 2005 because he expressed his thoughts freely. His views were in sync with the interests of the Lebanese people, but were not in harmony with the interests of some local parties and some regional powers that had ascendancy in Lebanon.

It is a source of pride that SKeyes has been very firm in committing itself to the codes of professionalism to bestow the award only to those who deserve it. This reinforces the confidence that good still exists in our region and in the Arab world that are satiated with evil.

Another reason for feeling proud is that the 193 entries by journalists from 12 countries are mostly of first-rate professional excellence. What is more important is that they are a true reflection of the Middle East and the Arab world that are still full of courageous journalists who do not hesitate to circumvent political and social prohibitions to convey information as it exists in reality and not as governmental institutions, political organization, militias, religious institutions and other social, conservative and backward groups want to present it.

The 193 press and media entries tackled political, social, economic and cultural cases and warned of the threats which our societies and our various institutions suffer from.

This huge quantity of creative work has been produced at a time of declining public freedoms. What if these freedoms were greater? Certainly, we would have been in a far better situation. This is the message that has been sent by the Samir Kassir’s Award. It is the same message which Samir Kassir devoted his life to. Samir was killed as a punishment. He was robbed of his life, exactly as our lives and future are being taken away right now in one way or another.