Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of ThoughtIbn Rushd Prize 2022: Religious Freedom
Arab societies today are strongly marked by harsh incrimination, discrimination and punishment of those criticising their religious institutions and, even more so, those refusing to adhere to a particular faith.
Restrictions are often imposed by governments themselves which tend to use the predominant religion and the religious clergy to legitimise their existence and to enforce their leadership. In addition, religious communities often use religious rules as a pretext to control their members socially.
But recent elections in Lebanon showed a significant shift in voter preferences, who turned in great numbers away from the sectarian divide and towards political content and reforms.
What does this tell us about Arab societies today? What does this mean for religious and sectarian control of society? And who are the people at the forefront of fostering the personal freedom of religion, supporting the right to civil marriage and allowing people to move beyond sectarian boundaries?
The practice of spiritual freedom
The Ibn Rushd Prize 2022 called for "an institution or a person who fostered or protected religious freedom in their region or country".
These two practitioners were awarded the prize "for the great efforts they continue to make in their Lebanese and Iraqi societies respectively and beyond in the Arab World, towards the actual practice of spiritual freedom and solidarity between individuals of different faiths to promote human rights and civilian life based on liberties, including religious liberties – and this amid extremely polarised countries torn by violence and fanaticism".
Both organisations strive for religious pluralism; and while Masarat’s main focus lies on minorities in Iraq and collective memory studies, the Adyan Foundation works on promoting inclusive citizenship, mainstreaming Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB), and protecting women’s rights against violations by Religious Personal Status laws in force in Lebanon.