Award 2011 goes to
Tunisian Woman Journalist
The Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought is delighted to declare
the journalist Sihem Bensedrine
the winner of the 13th Ibn Rushd Award. Since 1998, the Ibn
Rushd Fund has honored people or organizations that
have rendered outstanding services to Freedom of Thought in the Arabic World.
The award will be presented on November 25, 2011 in the Museum for Islamic Art, Berlin Germany.
While the revolutions and continuing turmoil in many
Arab nations surprised observers both inside and outside the countries, there have in fact been tireless and courageous
individuals who have worked to bring about this change. Sihem
Bensedrine is one of these brave individuals. Now 61, Ms. Bensedrine
is a journalist and a human rights activist who began advocating freedom of
speech and democracy in her home country of Tunisia while
still studying philosophy in Paris.
During her career as a journalist, she worked for numerous newspapers, some
of which were subsequently closed by the government for being too critical of
the regime. She was co-founder of the magazine ‘Kalima’
(the word). The Tunisian state would not issue the paper a license, so it was
published as an online journal. Despite being banned and having the site
blocked by the government, the internet site ‘http://www.kalima-tunisie.info’ had some 40,000 readers
per month, who had learned to circumvent the blockades in such a way that it
was impossible for the authorities to identify them. "The
internet", says Sihem Bensedrine, "is the
virtual space that is most likely to provide a secure place for resistance.
The relatively free communication in the World Wide Web has proven to be a
key to the democratization of society." A radio station of the same
name, 'Radio Kalima', went into service shortly
after the paper began publishing and was also denied a license by the government.
Her persistence and commitment was not without
personal consequence and danger. Ms. Bensedrine was the target of smear campaigns in the
state's media and was attacked and injured by 'unknown persons' in the street
several times, as well as being arrested and tortured by the Tunisian
authorities. Those attempts at intimidation, however, were not
successful: "They have
confiscated my freedom, so I have the obligation to fight," says Bensedrine, "for a woman it is particularly
necessary to revolt against any kind of oppression." With the support of
the Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People and a scholarship
from the Writers in Exile Program of the German P.E.N., she came for extended
visits to Germany and Austria. With
increasing threats to her life, she was forced into exile from Tunisia in
2009. Early in 2011, however, she
returned to help support the creation of a democratic state.
The Ibn Rushd Prize 2011 went to "a woman journalist who
actively and courageously fosters freedom of thought in the Arab World." The winner was elected by a jury appointed
by the Ibn Rushd Fund.
The members of this jury are distinguished by their knowledge in the field of
'Journalism in the Arab World', and their own publications on the subject, and
have worked for the Fund in an honorary capacity.
The jury members were: Toujan Al-Faisal
(human rights activist, TV-journalist und first female member of the
parliament, Jordan), Subhi Hadidi (Critic, editor
and translator, Syria/France), Hamdy Kandil (TV-presenter, journalist and political activist, Egypt),
Nadia Lamhaidi (Professor of journalism, advisor
for international organizations and author, Morocco) and Laila Al-Shaikhli (TV-journalist, Qatar).
The Ibn Rushd Fund
was founded in Germany and has members from and in numerous Arab and Western countries.
Named after the philosopher Ibn Rushd
(Averroes, 1126-1198), it seeks to promote freedom of thought and democratic
forces in the Arab World by bestowing the Ibn Rushd Award once a year.
This is a citizens' award which is exclusively financed by membership
fees and donations. The sub-theme varies from year to year, and has so far
covered literature and film, women's rights, the reform of Islam, Arab
Enlightenment, economics and Internet platform. To determine the main theme,
each January the Ibn Rushd
Fund calls upon its members to choose the award category for the year from a
list of topics. Anyone interested can then nominate candidates, and an
independent jury well versed in the subject is appointed by the Ibn Rushd Fund to select the
winner from among the nominees.
wish to attend the celebration of the awarding on November, 25, 2011 please
register under following link
or by using following form,
which can be sent back via fax or e-mail.
Biography of the
of members of the jury
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