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Lebanese publisher Dar Al Jadeed awarded the 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire

Nov
22

The IPA said in a statement that the Beirut-based publisher was chosen from a shortlist of five nominees who have all been recognized for their exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

Dar Al Jadeed Publishing House was cofounded in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2000 by Lokman Slim and his sister, Rasha Al Ameer, to publish cultural works free from ideological conflict or partisanship. In February 2021, Slim was murdered after a campaign of threats and intimidation over his efforts to bring greater freedom of expression and open dialogue to Lebanon.

Bodour Al Qasimi, president of IPA, said, “Through the Prix Voltaire, the International Publishers Association stands with individuals and organizations which share our commitment and devotion to freedom to publish as a fundamental right. Publishers, and our colleagues throughout the publishing value chain, need to know that they have the collective support of the entire industry behind them when they face unjust persecution and censorship. This year’s Prix Voltaire laureate paid the ultimate price standing up for freedom of expression as an enabler of tolerance and conflict resolution in Lebanon. His loss is a loss to the entire international publishing community.”

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, added, “Dar Al Jadeed has experienced first-hand the dangers that can come with a commitment to freedom of expression and the free communication of ideas. Their bravery is an inspiration.”

Dar Al Jadeed cofounder Rasha Al Ameer will receive the Prix Voltaire in person at Guadalajara International Book Fair on 30 November. The ceremony will also feature a keynote from Mexican journalist and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos.

Earlier the same day, the IPA will hold a Freedom to Publish seminar to assess the situation in Latin America and the wider world. Raul Figueroa Sarti, who was shortlisted for the Prix Voltaire and was awarded the Association of American Publishers International Freedom to Publish Prize Jeri Laber Award on 17 November, will appear alongside Nicaraguan author and Prix Cervantes laureate Sergio Remirez, and Jerónimo Pimentel, head of Penguin Random House Peru.

The IPA has also announced a Special Award for Chinese author Li Liqun (pen name Li Huizi), an independent Chinese PEN Center member who took his own life on 23 July 2021.

On the Special Award, Einarsson said, “The Freedom to Publish Committee only gives a Prix Voltaire Special Award for cases we feel are particularly noteworthy. Li Liqun’s efforts as a writer, political commentator and public intellectual were widely respected. The Committee is proud to recognize his work for freedom of expression.”