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Ibn Rushd Prize Honours Lebanese and Iraqi Advocates of Religious Freedom

A Lebanese and an Iraqi scholar who lead organisations that strive for religious pluralism have been chosen as winners of the 2022 Ibn Rushd Prize.

The Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought announced on Friday that it was jointly awarding this year’s prize to Nayla Tabbara and her organisation Adyan Foundation, based in Lebanon, and to Saad Salloum and his Baghdad-based Masarat, for their efforts advocating religious freedoms in the Arab world.

Since 1999, the Berlin-based fund has awarded the prize 20 times to “people or organisations who have made a significant contribution to free thinking in the Arab World and thus the values and aims of the association”.

Saad Salloum, founder and chair of the Masarat Foundation for Cultural and Media Development, has participated in numerous diversity and interfaith initiatives in Iraq.

The theme of this year’s prize is freedom of religion. The award set out to honour an individual or organisation that contributed to the promotion and protection of religious freedom, to combating sectarianism and discrimination on religious grounds, and to supporting the recognition of diversity to build a peaceful society.

The award ceremony will take place on September 8, in Berlin.

Iraq’s Masarat Foundation

Saad Salloum is founder and chair of the Masarat Foundation for Cultural and Media Development, a non-profit organisation specialising in diversity and interfaith dialogue. He is also an assistant professor of political science at Al-Mustansiriya University, in Baghdad.

Salloum co-founded the Christian-Muslim Dialogue Initiative in 2010, the Iraqi Council for Interfaith Dialogue in 2013, the National Center for Countering Hate Speeches in 2018, the Institute for Religious Diversity Studies in Baghdad in 2019, and the Institute for Diversity Journalism in Iraq in 2020.

A profilic author, Salloum has published 18 books in Arabic on diversity issues, the most prominent of which are “Minorities in Iraq” (2012), “Creative Diversity” (2013), “The Yazidis in Iraq” (2016), “The End of Diversity in Iraq” (2019), and “The Ongoing Genocide” (2022). Besides publishing in English, some of his works have been translated into French, Italian and Dutch.

The Masarat organisation focuses on minorities, collective memory studies, and interfaith dialogue. It produces a magazine dedicated to cultural diversity in Iraq and the Arab world, along with books and documentary films on minority rights and public freedoms.

Lebanon’s Adyan Foundation

Nayla Tabbara’s Adyan Foundation works locally, regionally and globally to promote diversity, achieve inclusive citizenship, and activate religious social responsibility.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in medieval history from Saint Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon, Nayla Tabbara received her Ph.D. in religious studies from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne, Paris) and Saint Joseph University. Her area of expertise covers Islamic theology of religious diversity, Islamic feminism, and exegesis of the Qur’an, Sufism, and education on interreligious and intercultural diversity.

Tabbara’s Adyan Foundation is an organisation for managing diversity, promoting solidarity and safeguarding human dignity. It works locally, regionally and globally to achieve inclusive citizenship, develop education on living together, activate religious social responsibility, and promote spiritual solidarity.

In Memory of Ibn Rushd

The Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought was established in 1998 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the death of the Arab Andalusian philosopher Ibn Rushd.

Previous winners of the Ibn Rushd Prize include numerous prominent Arab artists, activists and intellectuals. Among them are the Bahraini editorial cartoonist Sara Qaed, the Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim, the Palestinian writer Aisha Odeh, the late Palestinian singer and songwriter Rim Banna, and the Syrian human-rights activist Razan Zaitouneh, whose fate has been unknown since her abduction in 2013.

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Other laureates include the Egyptian economist Samir Amin, the Tunisian politician and thinker Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the Algerian scholar Mohammed Arkoun, the Moroccan philosopher Mohammed Abed Al-Jabri, the Sudanese women’s rights activist Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, the Quranic scholar Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, the cultural critic Mahmoud Amin El Alem, and Azmi Bishara, an Arab Israeli political philosopher and general director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.

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