Syrian refugee pianist awarded Beethoven human rights prize

Ahram Online , Sunday 20 Dec 2015

Refugee Aeham Ahmad received a prestigious award in Germany for playing the piano amidst rubble of war-torn Syria

Aeham Ahmed
Aeham Ahmed (photo: Still from video of Ahmed performing in Yarmouk)

Syrian refugee Aeham Ahmad was granted the International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Inclusion and the Fight Against Poverty.

The prize, which was celebrated with a chamber concert in Bonn’s National Art Gallery on December 18, came after the 27-year-old’s piano performances amidst Yarmouk’s destruction and rubble and distressing humanitarian situation that went viral on YouTube.

His piano was afterwards burned down by an ISIS militant, and as the situation worsened, Ahmed fled to Germany from the refugee camp in Yarmouk, Syria, which according to UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, has become akin to a "death camp."

In an interview with Deutsche Welle DW, Ahmed explained that by playing his music he wanted "to prove to the whole world that the majority of Syrians don't want this war."

Tosten Schreiber, the co-founder of the prize, said that along with Beethoven’s music, he also wanted to bring attention to his ideals.

"I base this on Beethoven's own claim: to do good where one can, to love freedom above everything else and not to deny the truth - even in the face of death,” he says.

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