Samir Kassir Award / Freedom of the Press 2011

Samir Kassir has paid with his life in his fight for democracy and Lebanon’s sovereignty, and he remains an example for his entire profession. By organising this competition, the European Union salutes, through the name of Samir Kassir, the efforts and courage of all the journalists in the region who, sometimes by risking their lives, are committed to human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

In this particular moment, we see citizens claiming their most basic rights, including freedom of expression, in several countries of the region.

For the European Union, these aspirations – both political and social – are legitimate because they relate to rights that we consider as being universal. However, in this region of the Mediterranean, Middle East and Gulf, there is still much to do.

Any violation of freedom of the press is inexcusable, whether exercised by the authorities or by individuals; whether it is in the form of physical attack against journalists or by silencing them These physical, administrative or psychological barriers contradict a society which is democratic and respectful of everyone’s opinions.

As long as there are journalists who are persecuted, harassed, or simply deprived from the means to exercise their profession, the Samir Kassir Award deserves to exist. I therefore encourage all journalists to participate: each one of you has his/her word to say, his/her point of view and his/her sensitivity as regards the problems of our time.

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