Ibn Rushd Award
2012 goes to Syrian Lawyer Razan Zaitouneh
The Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought is delighted to declare
the Syrian lawyer and human rights activist, Razan Zaitouneh, the winner of the Ibn
Rushd Award for Freedom of Thought. The award will
be presented on November
30, 2012 in the Museum for Islamic Art, Pergamon Museum, Germany, which
is again cooperating this year with the Ibn Rushd Fund. The laudatory speech will be held by the
renowned expert on the Middle East Prof. Udo
The Ibn Rushd Fund has been recognising people who have sought to
stimulate change with their thoughts since 1998, and who, all too often, have
had to personally suffer the consequences in the form of imprisonment and
torture. People who have broken new ground for so many others and who are now
also fighting for freedom. This year, the Ibn Rushd Award called explicitly for 'a young activist of
the Arab Spring, who fights peacefully for a democratic state.'
The 35-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, Razan Zaitouneh, committed herself to the struggle for the rights of political
prisoners in 2001 and was a co-founder of a society for human rights in Syria.
She has been reporting on the violation of human rights since 2005 on her
internet platform SHRIL (Syrian Human Rights Information Link, vdc-sy.org. She
has also published numerous articles in all kinds of different media. With
the outbreak of the revolution she was forced to go into hiding as a result
of her activities. State forces stormed her home in Damascus,
personal documents were taken, and both her husband and his brother put in
solitary confinement for three months.
Syrians have been suffering under totalitarian rule,
the negation of freedom and the smothering of even the smallest attempts to
build a civil society for decades now. But for 18 months now young Syrian
women and men have been publicly calling for reform.
Razan Zaitouneh received the Anna Politkovskaya
Prize and the European parliament's Sakharov Prize
for Freedom of Thought. Her commitment to human rights and her non-violent
resistance not only makes her representative of the young generation that is
prepared to risk personal freedom, security and even life for change within
society; she is also representative of the women in the Arab revolutions, who
– especially in Syria – are often involved in the fight in the front line
against the regime, yet wrongly ignored by the majority of the Western
Razan Zaitouneh was chosen by an independent jury from among a
great number of nominees from numerous Arab countries. The Jury 2012
consisted of Taoufik Ben Brik,
a freelance journalist and author from Tunisia. He is
regarded the best known critic of the former Tunisian president Ben Ali.
Since January 2011 he is head of the satirical weekly journal “Contre le pouvoir” (Dhir Essolta); Aref Hijjawi, author,
journalist, radio- and TV-editor in Palestine. He
was program director for BBC in London and
for Al-Jazeera TV Channel, and director of the
Media-Institute of the Bir Zeit University;
Gisele Khoury, journalist from Lebanon. She
was anchor at Lebanese and Arabic political talk shows and for the news
channel al-Arabiya. 2005 she founded the “Samir Kassir Foundation”, which
she is still presiding; Miral al-Tahawy, language- and literature-scientist from Egypt. She
was guest lecturer at Cairo University and at
different US-American Universities. She presently is an assistant professor
at Arizona State University; and Samar Yazbek, journalist and
author of many novels, short stories and screen-plays. She lives in Syria and France and is
considered to be one of the most important advocate
for human and women's rights in Syria.
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 focus varies from year to year, and has so far covered
literature and film, women's rights, the reform of Islam, Arab Enlightenment,
economics, blogger/internet platform, and journalism.
To determine the focus, each year in January the Ibn
Rushd Fund calls upon its members to choose the
award category from a list of topics. Any interested member of the public may
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.
For more information, see:
Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of
Tel. +49 (0) 30 32664-721
Fax +49 (0) 30 32664-722