The European Parliament awards militants of Arab Spring with the Sakharov Prize

The Prize was awarded to five activists of the Arab Spring, encouraging democratization in the Maghreb countries.

The winners expressed their gratitude for the prize as an important symbol of Europe’s vital support during the Arab Spring uprisings. They also pointed to the human rights challenges that their countries still face in their efforts to rebuild and set up genuinely democratic regimes that respect justice and human dignity.

Only two of the laureates were able to attend the award ceremony in person: Asmaa Mahfouz, a young blogger from Egypt, and Ahmed El-Senussi, Libya’s longest-serving prisoner of conscience. Parliament observed a minute’s silence in memory of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation in protest at the Tunisian authorities’ repression sparked widespread protests and who was awarded the prize posthumously, and of all those who lost their lives in the uprisings.

2011 Sakharov prize laureates

Ms Asmaa Mahfouz
Asmaa Mahfouz is a young Egyptian blogger whose Youtube videos brought thousands of people onto the streets to protest against the repressive regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Ahmed El-Senussi
Ahmed El-Senussi was Libya’s longest-serving prisoner of conscience, detained for 31 years following an attempted coup against the former dictator Gaddafi.

Mr Mohamed Bouazizi
Mohammed Bouazizi was a young street salesman whose self-immolation sparked widespread protests within hours that finally led to the fall of the Tunisian regime.

Mr Ali Ferzat
Ali Ferzat is a Syrian cartoonist known for his caricatures ridiculing Arab dictators. He fled Syria after he was attacked in August and had both his hands broken.

Mrs Razan Zaitouneh
Razan Zaitouneh is a human rights lawyer from Syria who went into hiding after being accused by the government of being a foreign agent because of her daily reports on her website ShRIL and to foreign media of the atrocities against civilians in Syria.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named in honour of the Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 and has become a well known symbol of the fight for human rights and democracy.

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