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Three artists from the MENA region received international recognition for their work to advance freedom of expression this month, including Lebanese playwright Lucien Bourjeily.IOC launched its Freedom of Expression Awards 14 years ago.The proliferation of regional candidates this year may reflect, in part, particularly restrictive censorship laws. Bourjeily has worked extensively with NGOs and theater organizations championing artistic freedom in Lebanon and abroad. He is known for introducing improvisational and immersive theater practices in Beirut, challenging the country's censorship laws – which stipulate that scripts be approved by General Security's censorship bureau before being staged.Usually the censors make suggestions for changes, effectively co-authoring the script to make a play less offensive. Bourjeily was told his only option was to spend two days observing the work of the censors and then write a new play, which would be submitted informally for approval.Bourjeily is adamant that censorship is a threat to creativity, causing artists to compromise on their messages and vision.
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