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MOROCCAN, LEBANESE TAKE HOME SAMIR KASSIR AWARDS

This year's Samir Kassir Press Freedom Prize went to a Moroccan journalist who criticised the Moroccan King's use of the media to dominate people's lives, and a Lebanese student who tackled the uprising against the Syrian military presence in Lebanon.

Ahmed Reda Benchemsi of Morocco won the 15,000 Euro (US$20,174) prize for his 14-page article, "The Cult of Personality", on the overwhelming influence of Moroccan King Mohammad VI, published last July in Morocco's "Tel Quel" weekly.

Rita Chemaly, who is studying political science at St. Joseph University in Beirut, earned the student award for her June 2006 thesis, "The Lebanese National Community in the Test of Spring 2005: Between Myth and Reality". Chemaly interviewed political activists during the popular uprising against the Syrian military presence in Lebanon following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

The annual Kassir awards, created to honour a Lebanese-born Palestinian journalist who was killed by a car bomb in Beirut two years ago, are funded by the European Commission delegation to Lebanon and are granted to work dealing with the rule of law or freedom of the press.

Benchemsi's article and Rita Chemaly's thesis are available at: http://www.prixsamirkassir.org

(5 June 2007)

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