Members of the Jury of Ibn Rushd Prize 2012
Taoufik Ben Brik
Taoufik Ben Brik was born in 1960 as the son of a trade unionist in Jérissa, a town in the mining region in north eastern Tunisia. He studied at the Faculty of Law in Tunis, but eventually abandoned his studies. In 1988, he joined the evening newspaper “La Presse soir”, but was soon dismissed because of his dossiers on freedom of expression in Tunisia. Up until 1990 Ben Brik worked as a journalist for the Tunisian national daily as-Sahafa, before he was dismissed there as well. From 1991 onwards a publication ban was enforced upon Ben Brik, which led Ben Brik in the following years to become a freelance journalist for European French-speaking media, newspapers and news agencies such as Libération and a correspondent for the French newspaper La Croix and two news agencies, Syfia and InfoSud. Ben Brik is a prominent critic of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and an outspoken critic of censorship in the Middle East. He was attacked and arrested several times and prevented from travelling abroad. His family was harassed to apply further pressure on him.
In 2000, he was accused of publishing false information. He went on hunger strike which drew international attention to the lack of freedom of expression in Tunisia. In October 2009, he was imprisoned again for six months. Ben Brik is the author of ten books, in addition to reports in international newspapers. He was awarded the Dashiell Hammett Prize, the Lillian Hellman Award and the Human Rights Watch Prize. In 2011 he refused to accept the award of the Società Libera. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Since the events of January 14th 2011 Ben Brik has published the bilingual – Arabic and French – satirical weekly magazine “Contre le pouvoir” (“didd as-sulta”).
His books include:
– Chronique du mouchard (2001)
– Une si douce dictature, Chroniques tunisiennes 1991-2000 (2000)
Aref Ahmad al-Hijjawi
Aref al-Hijjawi was born 1956 in Nablus/Palestine. He studied Arabic Literature at the University of Birzeit (BA). He held different professional positions, first for one year as planner in the recruitment department of the Ministry of Defence in Kuwait, then – for a period of four years – as teacher at Ibrahimieh College in Jerusalem and Friends School in Ramallah. Finally, Hijjawi turned to journalism and wrote for many newspapers as editor in politics and culture (such as ash-shaab, at-tariq, maraya). He also had worked as translator and presenter before he moved to England, where he became editor and eventually held the position of programme director at the British Broadcasting Channel BBC in London for 11 years. He then became the lead radio programme instructor at the International British Broadcasting Corporation in London for 6 months. After that he worked as correspondent for the BBC in Palestine for another 4 years. He was also a lecturer at the Ministry of Information and director of the Media Institute in the University of Birzeit for 7 years. Finally, al-Hijjawi held the position of programme director at Al Jazeera TV Channel for 6 years (until 01. February 2012).
Published works: The Palestinian Issue, Writing for the Radio, Arabic Grammar, Dear Listener, Freedom of the Media in Palestine, The TV-Reporter.
His productions for TV and radio: “The poet said…citation” (253 series for Al Jazeera), Studies in English Literature (21 series BBC), “Poetry stanza” (50 series at BBC), Whispers and noise – a journey across classical music (54 series), TV-programmes “Reins of power (20 series, Al Jazeera) and “The Spring of the Peoples” (in 8 parts on Jazeera) etc.
Aref al-Hijjawi is married and lives in Ramallah/Palestine. He has two daughters.
Lebanese journalist, born in Beirut. Studied information sciences and journalism at the Lebanese University ( batchelor degree). She continued her studies in the history of ancient civilizations (Egypt, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia) at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Kaslik north of Beirut. From 1986 to 1991 Gisele Khoury worked as presenter of many cultural programmes in the local commercial television LBCI. She subsequently conducted Lebanese and Arab political talk shows for LBCI for ten years (1992 to 2001). Then in 2002 she joined the media group MBC as program director and presenter of programmes of the news channel “Al-Arabiya”, which was founded in 2003 as part of the MBC. In her political talk shows she invited a number of prominent Arab and international celebrities including presidents such as Abd-el-Aziz Bouteflika, Yasser Arafat, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Hosni Mubarak, Omar Bashir, Abu Mazen, Ghazi Al-Yaoer and other prominent guests like, Farouk Shara, Ahmad Maher, Hassanein Haykal, Edward Said, Prince Turki Faisal. She participated in preparing and structuring several TV documentaries for French and Arabic channels (fr2 and arte).
Gisele Khoury was married to the journalist, author and historian Samir Kassir. She is currently president of the “Samir Kassir Foundation”, which was founded after the assassination of her husband on the second of June 2005. Two projects are funded by the foundation: the “Spring Festival in Beirut” and the “Media Center for the Protection of journalists in the Arab world”
With journalist colleague Sahar Baassiri, Gisele Khoury founded in 2009 the film production company “Rawi”. A four-part film about the biography of Yasser Arafat was produced as first project. She has a son and a daughter.
– Studio Beirut – Al Arabiya TV Channel
– Bi-l-Arabi – Al Arabiya TV Channel
– Hiwar al-umr – BBC.
Miral El Tahawy
El Tahawy studied Arabic Language and Literature at Zagazig University in Egypt. (B.A. 1991) and continued for a master degree at Cairo University on “Rebellion and Alienation in Arabic Women’s Short Stories” (M.A. 1996). She obtained her PhD from Cairo University in 2006 with honours, her thesis titled: “Aesthetics and the Artistic Formation of the Desert Novel.” Post doctorate: New York University, Middle East Department, 2008. She was lecturer and Assistant Professor at Cairo University and visiting assistant professor at many universities in the USA in New York at Appalachian State University, NC (2010), in North California and, Virginia. Currently she is assistant professor at Arizona State University 2011 (School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC)).
Books: Across the Generations: Arab Women and Taboos in Arabic Literature (in print), Istanbul in the Eyes of Eastern Writers (as co-author, 2009). Muharramat, Qabaliah, (Tribal Taboos), 2008, Rebellion and Alienation in Women’s Story Telling in the Sixties, 1999.
Novels: Brooklyn Heights, 2010, Na`qarat al-Ziba’ (Gazelle Tracks), 2002; al-Badhindjana al-zarqa’ (The Blue Aubergine), 1998. al-Khìba (The Tent), 1998. Collection of short stories Reem al-bararia al-mustahila (Reem of the Awkward Deserts). Besides her literary works she has contributed as columnist in various Arab newspapers, journals and magazines and participated in a number of debates.
El Tahawy is member of the International Pen Club, the Egyptian Writers Union, the Women Writers Association, MESA, Amnesty International, Arab Women’s Solidarity Association and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. She was also member of the Egyptian Supreme Council for culture (2002-2008).
Prizes: Naguib Mahfouz Literary Prize Medal for Literature at the American University in Cairo (AUC), 2010, the Arabic Booker Prize, 2010; the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries, Sencrita Kendra, India, (2004), the Talented Woman Prize by the British Council, Cairo. (1996), the Swiss literature prize 1998.
She won many international scholarships in creative writing programs, including: West East Divan Program (2005), a fellowship at the German Academy Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2004), Image of the Middle East Festival, Denmark (2006); Ledig House International Writers’ Workshop, New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), (2001); workshop sponsored by the World Bank and the African Cultural Development Organization, Florence, Italy (1998). Lafiny House’s creative writing program (1998).
Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist. She was born in Jablé in 1970 and studied Arabic literature. She has written in a wide variety of genres – novels, short stories, film scripts, television dramas, film and TV criticism. She was editor of Women of Syria, a feminist e-Magazine.
Yazbek has been a prominent voice in support of human rights and women’s rights in Syria. In her writings she shows courage in dealing with taboos and describes the problems of traditionalism, confessionalism and tribalism. She is a member of the minority Alawite community, but is an opponent of the regime of her co-religionist President Bashir al-Assad. She took part in the 2011 protests against the Assad regime, and subsequently was detained by security forces and also banned from travelling outside Syria. In 2010, Yazbek was selected as one of the Beirut39, a group of 39 Arab writers under the age of 40 chosen through a contest organised by Banipal magazine and the Hay Festival.
Some of her novels: “Clay” (as-Salsal), “Ra’ihat al-qirfa” (Smell of cinnamon), “Tiflat as-sama’” (Heavenly Girl) (2002). She has also written short stories that were published in anthologies such as the anthology “Baqat kharif” (The Autumn bouquet, 1999), “Mufradat imara’a” (Vocabulary of Women, 2000). She also wrote a book on the life of the Syrian writer Ghada Samman and on the Arab revolution: A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution (2012 English).
Her works in cinema and film: 13 films (cinema film “Low sky”, documentary film on the Syrian scholar Antoun Maqdisi, TV-film “Good morning, Laila”) and one soap opera/series (“Women in the shadow”).