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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom of Expression in Lebanon: Identifying Allies and Opponents

Tuesday , 25 April 2023
Design: Marc Rechdane

Lebanon is often regarded as one of the most liberal Arab countries. Article 13 of the Lebanese constitution explicitly states that “freedom to express one’s thoughts by word or pen, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of association, are guaranteed within the limits set by law.” However, despite this constitutional protection, some journalists have paid a high price, including their lives, for upholding their commitment to free speech. Samir Kassir, Salim Allawzi, Gebran Tuéni, and Lokman Slim, along with other survivors of attacks, are tragic examples of this.


In light of these challenges, the Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) partnered with IPSOS, with the support of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), to conduct research aimed at assessing Lebanese citizens’ awareness of freedom of expression violations. The study’s objectives included identifying the public’s understanding of these violations and fostering a multisectoral supportive group to safeguard and promote this fundamental right without fear of censorship, legal sanction, or retaliation.

SKF identified profiles of allies based on the three primary themes of the survey: free speech, anti-discrimination, and religion-related issues:


  • The findings revealed that out of the 800 respondents, 18 (i.e., 2.25% only) could be considered staunch free speech allies. Most of these individuals reside in Mount Lebanon, are aged between 18 and 30 years, have completed secondary education, and are presently employed.
  • Regarding anti-discrimination, four respondents only, out of 800, could be identified as full allies, ranging in age from 26 to 46 years old. Three of these individuals are Christian, and the remaining individual is Druze. Two reside in Mount Lebanon, one in North Lebanon, and one in Beirut.
  • Regarding questions related to religion, the Druze respondents, among all religious affiliations, were found to be the most critical of the adverse impact of some religious traditions have on human rights. Sixty-seven percent of all Druze respondents disagreed with the statement that Islam guarantees women’s rights. In contrast, a majority of 70% of Shia and Sunni respondents agreed with the same statement. Similarly, a majority of 52% of Christian respondents believed that reports on child sexual harassment within the Church were part of a conspiracy against the Christian religion.

This report was produced with the support of the United Nations Democracy Fund.

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