Alistair Burt, the FCO Minister for the Middle East and North Africa visited Beirut this week and teamed up with British Ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher on Monday 29 April to attend the Beirut Social Media Awards. They recorded a video message where they talk about the important role social media is playing in Lebanon and in the MENA region, and paid tribute to journalists and activists who have risked their lives to advance the public’s access to news and information. They also talk about what the UK is doing to support freedom of expression and public voice initiatives throughout the Middle East and North Africa, helping people to communicate across the region in new ways through the work of the UK’s Arab Partnership.
Ambassador Tom Fletcher & Minister Alistair Burt Video Message to Mark World Press Freedom Day
Extracts of Ambassador Fletcher’s video message: ‘You’ve got people out there changing Lebanon tweet by tweet and blog by blog, whether they are entrepreneurs, activists or even politicians. Lebanon is a young country going through a very difficult period in a very tough neighbourhood. These activists are out there charting a more positive future for Lebanon. In the coming days we have World Press Freedom Day. Here in Lebanon, next door to Syria, we’re extremely conscious of the dynamics of free speech.’
Extracts from Minister Burt’s message: ‘What some of the young people are doing today is using social media for freedom of expression… this week when we remember World Press Freedom Day we also remember the risk to those who are reporting on events and the many who have lost their lives.’