BEIRUT: The Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press was presented to Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist, and Carole Kerbage, a Lebanese journalist at the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel Tuesday. The award was presented by the executive branch of the EU, the European Commission, and the Samir Kassir foundation to the two journalists for their articles addressing the rule of law and human rights.
Speaking at the hotel pool with the destroyed St. Georges hotel as a backdrop, Patrick Laurent, ambassador and head of the European Commission to Lebanon said: "Through the name of Samir Kassir, the European Commission wished to pay tribute to all journalist who have died, for no other crime than that of doing their job.
Eltahawy won in the category of the best opinion article for her story "The Arab World's Dirty Secret-Racism," which was published in the newspapers Al-Arab in Qatar and Al-Masry al-Youm in Egypt. Kerbage won the prize for best investigative report for her article "Lebanese and Foreign Women Lease Their Bodies ... to Entertain Men," which was published in Nahar Ash Shabab, the weekly youth supplement of the daily An-Nahar in Lebanon. The winners were selected by a seven-member jury from two 12-person groups of finalists. Both winners' articles were published in Arabic, and they will each receive an award of 12,500 euros.
In her acceptance speech, El-tahawy addressed issues around Kassir's death and those facing Mideast journalists. "Too many journalists are targeted and we have just our pens," she said.
Kassir was a journalist and strong proponent of democracy and independence in Lebanon. He was assassinated in 2005, and his killers remain unknown. His death was one of numerous assassinations of vocal critics of the Syrian presence in Lebanon
The winners articles are available on the website www.samirkassir.org