Ibn Rushd Prize 2014 is awarded to
the Tunisian politician Rachid Ghannouchi
The Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought is pleased to announce the winner of the 16th Ibn Rushd Prize, Tunisian politician and pioneer of a modern Islam, Rachid Ghannouchi. The prize giving ceremony will take place on the 5th December 2014 in Berlin.
Rachid Ghannouchi read philosophy in Cairo, Damascus and Paris. He is one of the most important contemporary thinkers in the field of politics and Islam. He is recognized as a firm believer that Islam is compatible with the principles of pluralism, freedom, modernity and democracy. Since the 1970s Sheikh Ghannouchi has been author of numerous books on current themes, most importantly: Islam and modernity, democracy and secularism, civil state and civil society, religion and pluralism and the relationship between Orient and Occident. Beyond his political work, his writing has influenced political and religious thought in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab World.
The Ibn Rushd Prize 2014 called for a person who stands for a modern Islam as a pillar of civil society and thereby, through theoretical research or political activities, has supported the establishment of a modern democratic Arab state.
Rachid Ghannouchi has made an exceptional contribution to the debate begun in the 19th Century about the relationship between civil society and Islam and about the role each should play in the creation of a modern democratic state. Contrary to many other Islamic intellectual predecessors who have touched on these themes, Rachid Ghannouchi’s contributions are distinguished for their intelligible, non-academic approach. As a politician he strives to translate his views into practice, often causing controversial discussions within the an-Nahda party (also: Ennahda) of which he is a member.
Rachid Ghannouchi sees democracy as a part of modern Islam. He is a firm believer that Islam does not conflict with the democratic constitutional state and calls for a civil state in which Islam is one of the possible religions of its people. He views Great Britain, where he lived for 20 years in political exile, as a model. Ghannouchi upholds the view that it was the rule of the Arab dictators, under whom religion was violently suppressed, that bread today’s omnipresent religious extremism. Only through tolerance of the existent religiosity and through a moderate Islamic party in a free society can extremism be effectively combated.
He believes that co-operation, consensus and coalitions are essential for the construction of a successful democratic transition in Tunisia. As a consequence the an-Nahda party formed a coalition with secular parties. In 2012 he was awarded the British Chatham House Prize (chathamhouse.org/chatham-house-prize/2012) together with the Tunisian president Moncef Marsouki for the successful compromises both were able to make in the interest of Tunisia’s democratic transition.
The new Tunisian constitution guarantees Tunisia’s citizens fundamental free rights and refers to the Declaration of Universal Human Rights as one of its pillars. It commits Islam to openness and tolerance and guarantees citizens religious freedom. The fact that the an-Nahda party, of which he is a founder member, voted for the new Tunisian constitution is mainly due to Rachid Ghannouchi’s influence and thinking.
For the allocation of the 16th Ibn Rushd Prize for Free Thought the Fund has continued to practice the principles of grassroots democracy established since it’s foundation:
Each year in March the members of the Ibn Rushd Fund choose a theme for the prize. After the official notification of the theme in April any interested person can nominate a candidate. In the meantime the fund chooses a jury comprised of five experts in correspondence with the theme, if possible from five Arab countries and including at least two women. The jury is honorary and independent. The result is drawn from the sum of points given for each of the categories specified by the jury.
Since 1998 the Ibn Rushd Fund has sought to distinguish people or organizations who have made a significant contribution to free thinking in the Arab World with its prize.
The prize giving ceremony as well as the prize money consisting of €2500 is exclusively funded through membership fees and the contributions of the members of the Ibn Rushd Fund.
For more detailed information see: Ibn Rushd Prize 2014
Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought
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