Dec. 14 - EU parliament gives annual Sakharov prize for freedom of thought to five “Arab Spring” activists. Nick Rowlands reports.
At a ceremony in Strasbourg, France, the President of the European Union Parliament awards the Sakharov prize to five "Arab Spring" activists. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT JERZY BUZEK, SAYING: "I am honoured to award the European Parliament Sakharov prize for the freedom of thought in 2011 to five courageous women and men who represent the Arab Spring." The prize, named after Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, is intended to honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism, and oppression, and carries an award of 50,000 euros. One of the winners was Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz, whose calls for freedom on the Internet helped inspire the protests which eventually toppled President Hosni Mubarak. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) EGYPTIAN ACTIVIST ASMAA MAHFOUZ SAYING: "I think we can be proud of the Arab people, because they are very much in favour of universal values such as respect and dignity, and this award will pay homage to the heroes of the revolution. This is a prize that goes out to all young Egyptians." The other winner present was Libyan dissident Ahmed El Senussi, who spent 31 years in prison for his opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, and said the prize would help Libya create a democratic state. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIBYAN ACTIVIST AHMED EL SENUSSI SAYING: "This prize has huge symbolic and moral value. It is something which the people of Libya appreciate, they have congratulated me on of having been awarded the prize." The other prize winners were Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, whose death helped trigger the protests across the Arab world, and two Syrians who are part of the current uprising in their country - lawyer Razan Zeitouneh and cartoonist Ali Farzat. Nick Rowlands, Reuters.