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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Gisèle Khoury, Rest in Peace

Sunday , 15 October 2023

In the early hours of the morning, on October 15, 2023, Gisèle Khoury passed away peacefully at her home in Okaibeh, Mount Lebanon, surrounded by her loving family.

Gisèle will be forever missed by her daughter, Rana, her son, Marwan, and her cherished grandchildren, Kyan, Sasha, and Rayan. Her memory also lives on in the hearts of the members and staff of the Samir Kassir Foundation, as well as a vast community of family, friends, and colleagues.

Gisèle led the most inspiring and accomplished life. She embarked on her journalism career in 1986 at LBCI, hosting cultural talk shows. From 1992 to 2001, she helmed LBCI’s most prestigious political talk show, “Hiwar al-Omr”, where she interviewed some of the Arab world’s most prominent political and cultural figures. In 2002, she joined the pan-Arab media group MBC, contributing to the launch of the 24-hour news channel, Al-Arabiya, where she hosted a weekly political talk show from 2003 to 2013. In October that year, she took her talents to BBC Arabic, conducting weekly interviews with world leaders about pivotal moments during their tenures. Since 2020, she had been hosting an innovative weekly show on Sky News Arabia, providing a critical perspective on the most significant regional and global developments. She wrote and produced documentary films about some of the most prominent Arab leaders and co-established the documentary production house “Rawi” alongside her friend, journalist and ambassador Sahar Baassiri.

Following the tragic assassination of her husband, journalist and historian Samir Kassir, on June 2, 2005, Gisèle drew unimaginable strength from this loss. She established the Samir Kassir Foundation on February 1, 2006, which has since become the leading organization documenting violations of media and cultural freedom in the Levant and a driving force supporting independent media voices across the Middle East and North Africa. Under her leadership, the Foundation launched the Beirut Spring Festival, offering the public, for 15 years, free access to the most innovative art performances from Lebanon and around the world. Gisèle leveraged Samir Kassir’s legacy to contribute to an Arab awakening and the rejection of oppression.

Gisèle championed the cause of freedom in every meeting, on every screen, and on every stage. Her leadership prompted the European Union to establish the Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press in 2006, which has grown to become the most prestigious and coveted journalism prize in the region. From 2016 to 2020, she was elected to the steering committee of the Global Forum for Media Development and also served as a jury member for UNESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. In recognition of her contributions, she was named an Officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 2012 and a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 2019.

The Samir Kassir Foundation extends its heartfelt condolences to all those who had the privilege of knowing and loving Gisèle Khoury. The Foundation remains steadfast in upholding the values that Gisèle embodied and is committed to celebrating her life and memory by perpetuating her spirit of freedom.

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