European parliament

Sakharov prize for the Arab spring

Published on 14 December 2011 at 12:44

"Europe restores its image with the Sakharov Prize," remarksEl Mundo on a day when the 2011 European parliament’s prize for freedom of thought was awarded to five activists from Arab revolutionary movements.

Only two of the winners were there to receive their awards in Strasbourg: Lybian Ahmed al-Senussi, who spent 31 years in Muammar Gaddafi’s prisons, and Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz of the April 6 Youth movement. Among the other laureates, Syria’s Razan Zeitouneh, a human rights lawyer and blogger, is currently living in hiding, while Syrian political satirist Ali Farzat has sought refuge in Kuwait following an attack by supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime. The fifth prize was posthumously attributed to Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation triggered the Tunisian uprising.

"For years, Europe turned a blind eye to the Arab dictatorships" and this year’s awards "symbolise a sense of culpability," argues the Spanish daily. But notwithstanding the European parliament’s condemnation of repression in Syria, "Brussels has yet to articulate a unified response to Assad," and "much remains to be done, if the EU is to respond in an adequate manner to the process of democracy in the Arab world."

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