Awarding ceremony 1999
In the ceremony, the IBN RUSHD Fund for Freedom of Thought was represented by (from left to right) Dr. Khairi Qattawi, Mr. Sherif, Mr. Bushnaq and Dr. Hachicho. Mr. Bushnaq chairman of IBN RUSHD Fund says: Its not our aim to imitate Western civilization. Every society has to develop by itself. The dialogue between the old and the new, tradition and modernism, between different political views can lead to success only when freedom of speech and tolerance are granted and when rational thinking is translated into action. Our first step to reach this is to give awards to deserving persons in the Arab world whose works and achievements are important for developing freedom of thought and democracy.
Dr. Hachicho – advisory board – says: “This is the first award of the fund since its foundation a year ago. The award should not be measured by its relatively modest material value but by its distinguished moral value. The IBN RUSHD Award 2000 will be granted to a Person who has shown great work in the field of women’s rights and women’s liberation.”
Mr. Sherif – vice chairman of the IBN RUSHD Fund – explains why al-Jazeera Channel has been chosen among other candidates, which was process of long discussion and debate with a large number of intellectuals inside and outside the fund. With this choice the IBN RUSHD Fund and its supporters hope that other Arab channels will follow al-Jazeera in its enlightening role in Arab media. Mr. Sherif mentions that Al-Jazzira received the prince Claus Fund Award 1999 two days before..
Mrs. Abier Bushnaq – advisory board – gave a short description of the programs of Al-Jazeera TV Channel, a channel which was founded in 1996 and is broadcasting from Qatar news, docomentaries, talk shows to more than 215 million spactators in the Arabic world.
This private channel discusses current political and social themes which are tabu or rarely discussed in most Arab countries: deficits in democratic practice, violation of human rights, the controverse of religion and fundamentalism and women’s rights.
Political talk-shows, open air discussions had been unknown in the Arab world. In lively discussion rounds guests can talk freely about politics and social problems. The Channel tries to present a forum for the controversial trends in the Arab world: left-wing and conservative intellectuals, Islamists and secularists, state representatives and dissidents, all can express themselves freely. The motto of the channel is simply: “The opinion and the opposite opinion” – “ar-Ra’i wa ar-ra’i al-akhar”.
In the audience, there was a huge number of representatives of European and Arab media, as well as human rights activists and political active Arabs in Germany.
Questions came from the audience – some were critical, others were laudatory with positive comments.
Mr. Bushnaq, chairman of the IBN RUSHD Fund for Freedom of Thought, presents the Ibn Rushd award 1999 to Mr. M. Jassem al-Ali, general director of al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, to honour its pioneer work in supporting and distributing free and democratic thought among the Arab people.
M. Jassem al-Ali kindly gives the Ibn Rushd Fund a small reminder – the Al Jazeera Logo.