I am writing this from Berlin, Germany, accompanied by the Director General of The Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom, Evelyne Abitbol. I am here in Berlin to award the ‘2015 Raif Badawi Prize‘ to the courageous Moroccan journalist, Ali Anouzla.
In October 2015, The Alliance International Media (IMA), along with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, announced Ali Anouzla as the winner of the 2015 Raif Badawi Prize. The other nominees for the Prize were as follows: NGO Bahrain Centre for Human Rights; Egyptian Masr Mada Newspaper; the journalist Reda Fhelboom, Libya; and Lebanon Samir Kassir Foundation.
Ali Anouzla was chosen as the winner of the Raif Badawi Prize by a roundtable of high-level media professionals constituting the official Award Panel, including the Director of Twitter Germany, Rowan Barnett, the editor of NDR, Andreas Cichowicz the DPA Correspondent, Anne-Beatrice Clasmann, the editor of Spiegel On Line, Florian Harms, the Editor-in-Chief at Stern.de, Philipp Jessen, the editor of BILD.de, Julian Reichelt, the editor of ZEIT ONLINE, Jochen Wegner, and editor at DWDL.de Alexander Krei. It was co-organised by the IMA, Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and Friedrich Naumannpour Freedom Foundation.
I am immensely proud to present Ali with this Award which bears the name of my husband. An award that is supported by the Alliance of International Media (IMA) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Ali has distinguished himself through his work in Arab countries where a policy of transparency is not only encouraged, but writers such as Ali are applauded for their more liberal views and the courage with which they express such.
Anouzla Ali is one of the few Moroccan journalists who can be considered to stand truly independent. He is of a rare breed within his profession as a journalist in an Arab country, fulfilling what is a dangerous vocation in current times. Ali has had his influential writings published in several Moroccan newspapers and spearheaded the launch of the website lakome.com. lakome.com was shut down by Moroccan authorities in 2013.
Ali Anouzla’s investigative work led him to speak out against the violation of human rights, as well as bribery and tax evasion/shelter, all of which remain fundamental issues within his own country. He dared to criticise the ‘executive monarchy’ of Morocco along with the political system as well as expose the Moroccan management company responsible for monitoring and responding to issues relating to the conflict of Western Sahara in the South. Peaceful expression of criticism of the monarchy or religion is considered a defamation in both Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
Ali has suffered repeated harassment by the Moroccan authorities. In 2008, he was sentenced for the publication of ‘sensitive documents’ he discovered in the archives of the Moroccan Truth Commission. After several indictments and a sentence of imprisonment, (since suspended), Ali has continued to write, remaining undaunted and with the same rigour and transparency.
In September 2013, Ali was indicted on charges pertaining to ‘providing material that defines and incites terrorist acts’. Such an accusation carries a twenty year prison sentence for those found guilty. Ali’s arrest was denounced on social media and by international organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. Five weeks after his arrest, Ali was released.
In August 2015, along with a small team of young journalists and bloggers, Ali launched a follow-up website to lakome 1 – titled ‘lakome2‘ – specifically aimed at Moroccan youth and the Arab world.
Constantin Schreiber, of the International Alliance Media (AIM), who initiated the Raif Badawi Prize and published Raif’s book titled ‘1,000 Lashes’ which is composed of extracts from Raif’s writings, stated the following: The jury decided to award the prize to this courageous journalist and admirable career. The work of Ali Anouzla is characterized by solid research and investigative research. It is difficult to criticize the political establishment and ‘Moroccan Royalty’. Such a decision sends out a signal to all who are fighting for reform in Morocco.
The Raif Badawi Award ceremony will take place on November 13, 2015, during an annual gala for media professionals. The Award is presented by the Alliance of International Media and is co-organised by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. It is funded by Bundesmedienball, Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and Ullstein Buchverlage and supported by Reporters Without Borders Germany.
Ensaf Haider –
Wife of Raif Badawi & Co-Founder of The Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom.