Syrian composer and pianist Malek Jandali Jandali has been awarded this year's Freedom of Expression Award in recognition of his work and dedication in advocating the cause through his music. The award is given by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"I am greatly honoured and tremendously moved to be the recipient of this award on behalf of the brave people of my homeland Syria. Music and culture are essential pillars of society," Jandali said. "In many respects, it is also the conscience of society. The right to express your voice and opinion is vital. This has been an incredible year and I would like to dedicate this award to the Syrian people, especially those who have sacrificed their life in their noble cause of freedom, dignity and human rights."
The Syrian regime targeted Jandali's parents shortly after he performed his song "I Am My Homeland" at a rally in front of the White House in Washington DC to support the Syrian people. His parents were brutally beaten by Assad's security forces in retaliation to their son's stand. Jandali will accept the award at CAIR's 15th anniversary gala dinner ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday, 5 November 2011.
The Freedom of Expression Award has become a milestone in the human rights calendar. Each year, CAIR honours people who have made outstanding contributions, often heroic ones, to the defence of freedom of expression and human rights. The Freedom of Expression Award recognises individuals who work for justice, equality, philanthropy, civil and human rights and humanitarian causes. Others who received awards include Indian actor Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show, who received the 2011 "Courage in Media" award.