Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought

Welcoming Speech of the Ibn Rushd Fund at the occasion of awarding the Ibn Rushd Prize to AMAN, Coalition for Accountability and Integrity Palestine on December 01, 2017

Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear guests from near and far, dear friends and supporters of the Ibn Rushd Fund, dear members!

Today, a vibrant mix of people has come together, experts in their own affairs, people of Arabic and non-Arabic origin, with and without migratory background, multi- or monocultural - what we all have in common is an interest in Freedom of Thought. It is a good thing that we have gathered, for this topic, in this place.

The values of Freedom of Thought, the right to Freedom of Speech and to democratic participation are values that the Ibn Rushd Fund has supported and promoted since its foundation in 1998. We do so by organizing the Ibn Rushd Lectures, the philosophical salon 'Diwan al-Falsafa', and by yearly awarding a person, an institution or an organization with the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought. The Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought in the Arab World is a citizens' prize, an international one, because it is being given by people in Germany with origins in various Arab countries, as well as by people of German origin with a connection to the Arab World, and by members in many countries around the world. The prize is first and foremost a recognition of a person or institution who champions Freedom of Thought in the Arab World. This is also true for this year, when the prize that called for 'a person or an institution who has made an outstanding contribution in combatting corruption' is being awarded to the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity AMAN.

Why did we propose 'corruption', and why did our members vote for it in such great numbers among the possible topics of the year 2017 award? No society is free from corruption, but corruption in the public and private sectors in the Arab World has risen to unprecedented levels.

Corruption hinders the development of society and destroys its ethical values. This is reflected in both individual and collective behavior. The wealth of some is the poverty of the others - the lack of ethics, nepotism and greed on one side lead to loss of trust, lack of opportunity and hopelessness on the other, which in turn leads to stagnation instead of progress.

The main cause of corruption is the absence of democracy. In order to ensure good governance, the separation of the three state powers executive, legislative, and judicative is indispensable; in most Arab countries, however, the executive controls all three powers and thus possesses absolute power - leading to absolute corruption. The fight against corruption is therefore not an end in itself; it is about combatting corruption to achieve good governance and thus enforce democracy.

This is why corruption is so important for the Ibn Rushd Fund, which is dedicated to Freedom of Thought and democracy.

In view of the multidimensional nature and complexity of the topic, the choice was not easy for the members of this year's jury (working, as always, on an honorary basis) – Atta el-Battahani from Sudan, Ahlem Belhadj from Tunisia, Hassan Nafaa from Egypt, and Natacha Sarkis from Lebanon.

They had to choose a winner from among a large number of highly qualified candidates, each of whom merits a prize. Nominations came from various countries of the Arab World, headed by Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Tunisia and Lebanon. It was striking that organizations scored higher than individuals.

Individuals often risk a lot in their fight against corruption, up to losing their personal freedom. Their commitment is of inestimable value. But this year's jury chose an organization, a group of people combatting corruption; this is about the honorable standing together to fight corruption collectively. The existence of so many organizations striving to eradicate corruption is a sign of the growing awareness of the problem and the progressive, collective, systematic work to institutionalize reform.

An organization

striving to eradicate corruption in a sustainable way in its own country and beyond, developing transferability methods for oversight and intervention, and helping ensure these methods are successfully applied to other nations in the region;

an organization

that is one of the founders of the anti-corruption movement in the Arab world;

an organization

that has been able to achieve results and to assert itself despite the particularly difficult circumstances created by the occupation;

an organization

that has built a reputation of integrity in Palestinian society over two decades:

this organization deserves the honor of the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought 2017! The Coalition of Accountability and Integrity AMAN deserves our unanimous respect, recognition and applause!

 

Ibn Rushd Fund was established 19 years ago, and we have awarded the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought in the Arab world 18 times; we are financed only by members' fees and donations. Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear supporters, dear members, this is how we commenced our speech. We at the Ibn Rushd Fund need support to continue our work. How very much we would like to greet those in our audience adressed tonight as ladies and gentlemen next year on this occasion as supporters of our work; because it is only with your support that the Ibn Rushd Fund can keep on advocating and promoting Freedom of Thought in the Arab World.