Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought

Dr. Sadiq Jalal al-Azm's speech on the occasion of receiving Razan Zaitouneh's Ibn Rushd award.

Razan's Notes from the Under Ground

I am extremely moved by this privilege of receiving the Ibn Rushd  Award on behalf of the most valiant feminine  face of the Syrian Revolution: Razan Zaitoune. In moments like this, where ordinary language fails to speak and express, I turn to good literature, hence the title of my word this evening.

Since the eruption of of the revolution over 20 months ago, Razan has been Syria's most eminent Under Ground Woman and Syria's most shining Invisible Woman around. But unlike Russia's famous Under Ground Man, Razan is neither nameless nor in self-imposed isolation. And unlike America's Invisible Man , Razan is not anonymous and never regarded herself from the start, an Invisible Syrian. Hence, I can say with confidence that Syria's Revolution found in Razan both its most renown Under Ground Woman, with lots of notes for the above ground, and its most visible Invisible participant-observer, documentor, commentator, and critic.

Still, like both these famous literary characters, Razan is also a story to tell on its own. A story about endurance, courage, persistence, oppression, persecution and forced isolation and invisibility.
A lawyer by profession, Razan commited herself from the very start to  the cause of civil society in Syria and what it entails in terms of respect for Human Rights, civil rights and liberties, human dignity,democracy,freedom and the primacy of citizenship. Her Notes from the Under Ground have critically and without fear or favor illuminated much about the Revolution, especially her meticulous documentation of the atrocities, violations, rape, torture death and crimes against humanity committed by the regime and its storm troops most of the time and by the revolutionaries themselves some of the time.

In addition to all that , through a steady stream of commentary, reports, interviews, criticisms and searching questions, Razan became the voice of the Revolution to the outside world, no less than to the Revolutions terbulant inside world.
Unintimidated by the 'politically correct' discourses of the revolution, she bravely warned against its dangerous paradoxes, harmful shortcomings and the counter productive courses it could take because of the intensification of religious fanaticism, sectarianism and lawlessness.

We honor her today for her pride, modesty, bravery, unwavering revolutionary commitment and above all for the sacrifices she made and endured for the sake of a better, more democratic, more humane and more dignified future for Syria, for its people, for its civil society and for its new form of government.

Finally, although Razan's thoughts and actions are anchored in Syrian social, political and legal realities her concerns are universal. As she herself said: 'this prize honors all those Syrians who dream the dream of freedom.'

Prof. Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, Syrian Philosopher