Leila Sansour

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Leila Sansour is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Open Bethlehem, a non-governmental foundation established to promote and protect the life and heritage of the city of Bethlehem. Sansour developed the Bethlehem Passport in partnership with the city council and governor of Bethlehem. Pope Benedict XVI became the first recipient of the Bethlehem passport when he accepted the citizenship of Bethlehem from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in December 2005.

Leila Sansour is from an old Palestinian Roman Catholic family. She was born in Moscow, February 16, 1966, when her Palestinian father, Anton, was teaching mathematics at Moscow State University. Leila Sansour and her family returned to the city of Bethlehem in 1973 when Anton Sansour was asked to establish the Bethlehem University, previously a Roman Catholic seminary.

Leila Sansour is a film director who produced the film Jeremy Hardy vs. the Israeli Army [2003], following the British comedian Jeremy Hardy and his travails during the siege of Bethlehem in 2002. She began her film work in television and produced the series Cultural Portraits for Al Jazeera, featuring profiles of prominent Arabs who had made a significant world contribution in the arts, science or politics.

Leila Sansour studied at the Sorbonne, Moscow State University and the University of Warwick. She is married to the British novelist Nicholas Blincoe and has homes in Bethlehem and London.

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