Al Rawiya

Samir Kassir Award: Inas Hakki

Interview translated from Arabic to English by Cendrella Azar.

On June 5, 2023, Al Rawiya had the chance to be present at the Samir Kassir Award held at the Sursock Museum in Beirut, where three journalists were given awards in three separate categories for their submitted work.

Inas Hakki, Winner of the Samir Kassir Award in the Students’ Prize and Opinion Category for her article, “An Open Letter to Jackie Chan,” which addresses and critiques a statement once made by a filmmaker working on a movie in war-torn Syria and produced by Jackie Chan. 

About the winner: Inas is a Syrian French filmmaker and journalist. In 2004, she graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, Department of Ballet in Damascus, Syria. She received her masters’ degree in global communications from the American University of Paris, and she also has a diploma from the New York Film Academy in digital filmmaking. After working as an assistant director for several years, she has directed four successful TV shows. In 2013, she co-founded Under 35 Production in Beirut and has been the co-CEO since then. She is currently based in France, and has directed Tabbakh Roho, a theater play in 2022. She writes for several news outlets, particularly Raseef22.

What does winning this award mean to you? 

This award made me feel that we are not alone in our struggles and that our voices are being heard. The prize for the best opinion article is very significant, as it not only acknowledges my role as a journalist but also carries the name of Samir Kassir. This recognition is also an acknowledgment of the suffering experienced by all Syrians on whose behalf I wrote this article. It should encompass all Syrians who have endured immense suffering, including the people of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, whose homes were transformed into film sets, and the inhabitants of the Yarmouk camp, who are unable to return. It signifies that our stories, particularly that of the Syrian revolution, are being heard by others.

What pushed you to write this article? 

I wrote this article after hearing a statement made by one of the producers involved in the movie that Jackie Chan is producing in Syria. They said, “We got the set for a cheap price.” I felt compelled to reply. In general, my writing aims to preserve our Syrian story, despite the constant efforts to erase it, along with the story of the Syrian revolution, particularly the peaceful aspects, and the current prevailing trend of normalization [with the Assad regime] and impunity. It is as if nothing ever happened, and we are expected to move on.

What do you believe are the roles that the Samir Kassir Foundation and the Samir Kassir award play in achieving the freedom of press? 

The existence of institutions that support and defend journalists is crucial, as it provides a sense of solidarity and reassurance amidst the violence and destruction of war. These institutions help journalists understand that they are not alone in facing such extreme circumstances. Even if I personally have never taken such risks in my life, it is comforting to know that there are colleagues who do, and it is important that they feel appreciated, supported, and backed by others. These institutions play a vital role in providing that support.

How does your identity play into your work today as a journalist?

I am extremely fortunate to be one of the Syrian survivors of the massacre and to have found refuge in France. France has provided me with protection, enabling me to express my opinions freely. I dream of a future where all Syrian can experience this sense of freedom, where we can openly voice our opinions without fear or the expectation of retribution from authorities. I consider myself very lucky, and I hope that such fortune becomes the norm rather than the exception for everyone.

What is the project you are most proud of?

I take pride in all that I have achieved for people, their stories, and their right to a decent life, living freely and with dignity, free from humiliation and disrespect. Whether through this project or in other endeavors, this is what fills me with pride—to be a voice for those who are voiceless, particularly for those who are no longer with us.

Did you ever expect to be a journalist?

The truth is, no, I never expected how fate would take a turn and lead me to this place. I have a deep passion for writing, as it serves as a cathartic outlet, allowing me to release some of the anger and frustration that we all experience. I consider myself fortunate to have a platform that provides me with the opportunity to express my anger and raise my voice. Additionally, I have a great love for expression and visual imagery.



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