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French Version

EC launches Samir Kassir Prize for Freedom of Press

Awards to be given to journalists and students

The European Commission in Beirut has announced the formation of the Samir Kassir Prize for the Freedom of the Press, worth 10,000 euros ($12,100), to be awarded to one journalist and one research student every year on June 2, the day Kassir was assassinated.

Head of the European Commission's delegation, Ambassador Patrick Renauld, announced the prize during a news conference at the commission's quarters on Friday.

He said: "This prize, which will further inscribe Kassir's name in the Arab world, is a prize for the word's resistance against arms, obscurantism and barbarism."

Renauld said it is no longer acceptable in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world to threaten lives of women and men if they engage in political life. He was

also referring to May Chidiac, the LBC news anchor who survived an assassination attempt on her life on September 25, though she was seriously wounded.

"It is time that the politicians realize freedom of expression should be granted unconditionally because it is an inalienable right," said Renauld. "This is the message our delegation wishes to convey through this prize."

Giselle Khoury, Kassir's wife said that this prize gives the Lebanese "hope at a very critical time during which they are fighting for their freedom, their sovereignty and their independence."

Asked whether the investigations into Kassir's assassination have revealed anything, Khoury said: "The investigations are secret and the information I have is that they are getting more serious in Lebanon, while in France, the file is almost ready and French investigators will come to Beirut in December for more testimony."

Khoury also announced that Samir Kassir's Cultural Foundation - dedicated to publishing and translating Kassir's writing and improving journalism throughout the Arab world - will display Kassir's works and belongings during the "Lire en Franais et en Musique" exhibition and the "Arabic Book" exhibition.

An-Nahar publisher Ghassan Tueni will head the foundation and former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, will be among its members.

The two prizes will be awarded to one professional journalist of the written press, radio or television and one young researcher student under the age of 26, both to be citizens of the MEDA countries that have subscribed to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

The jury will be selected jointly by the European Commission and Kassir's foundation.

Beirut,10 10 2005
Nada Bakri
The Daily Star
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