Ciné-ONU: Critical minds for critical times

Tuesday, 09 May 2017

Brussels | UNRIC

“On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all. When we protect journalists, their words and pictures can change our world.” – Secretary-General António Guterres.

‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies’ is the theme of World Press Freedom Day this year. The United Nations has celebrated the fundamental principles of press freedom annually since 1993, with this year’s events focusing on why it is vital to strengthen free and quality journalism to enable the media to effectively contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16.

To mark this important day, Ciné-ONU teamed up with the One World International Human Rights Film Festival to bring ‘Tickling Giants’, a documentary that starts off by telling the story of one man and ends up speaking volumes about satire, freedom of expression, and political pressure, to a full house at Cinema Galeries on 4 May.

Following the screening, Caroline Petit, Deputy Director of the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels (UNRIC) and Shaimaa Abu-I-Kheir, member of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate and the National Union of Journalists in London, engaged in a tête-à-tête. They discussed the importance of freedom of speech and the current situation for journalists in Egypt.

Abu-I-Kheir described the current situation for journalists in Egypt from personal experience: “We are living in a very stressful time. Tens of people were forced to leave the country. Recently at least twenty-three journalists were imprisoned, with at least twelve killed [in recent years]. There are a lot of physical threats and assaults."

The audience was very engaged in the conversation, with one audience member asking Abu-I-Kheir whether Europeans have anything to fear in relation to press freedom.  Abu-I-Kheir replied, “You are able to have debates. In Egypt, you are not even allowed to do that.”

To close the discussion, Petit and Abu-I-Kheir talked about what the audience members and civil society can do to help protect journalists worldwide. Abu-I-Kheir’s answer was simple: “You can join campaigns online to support journalists on the ground. People believing in their right to work supports them!"

See the event handout and photos.