Lebanese American University


2015 program

Mr. Ayman Mhanna

Mr. Ayman Mhanna

Ayman Mhanna is the Executive Director of the Beirut-based Samir Kassir Foundation and an advocate for freedom of expression. The Foundation’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom has become the leading press freedom organization in the Middle East, monitoring violations targeting media professionals and providing journalists with training, financial and legal support. He previously worked at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Mhanna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Saint Joseph University in Beirut and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Sciences Po Paris. He is also a lecturer on the Master’s program at Saint Joseph University’s Faculty of Economics, teaching Policy Development and Communications. Mhanna is a member of various Lebanese NGOs and has served since 2008 on the executive committee of the Democratic Renewal Movement.


Presentation of the organization: The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) was founded end of 2005, a few months after the assassination, on June 2, 2005, of Samir Kassir, a prominent Lebanese journalist and historian, who spearheaded the struggle for freedom of expression and democracy in Lebanon and in neighboring countries.
The Foundation honors the memory of Samir Kassir by defending two causes that he believed in and fought for through his books and articles: democratizing access to culture and defending freedom of speech. To this end, the Foundation has been organizing since 2009 a highly-acclaimed, annual, free-entrance festival, the Beirut Spring Festival (www.beirutspringfestival.org) on the first week of June. In addition, the Foundation launched in November 2007 the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (www.skeyesmedia.org). SKeyes is today the largest regional center, monitoring violations of press and cultural freedom in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. SKeyes also provides financial and judicial support to persecuted journalists and intellectuals, organizes workshops and seminars to strengthen journalistic skills, and advocates the end of all forms of censorship. Finally, SKF is associated with the European Union to deliver the annual Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press (www.samirkassiraward.org), which has become one of the most prestigious journalism awards in the Arab world.

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