German philosopher rejects UAE’s Zayed Book Award

Jurgen Habermas decides not to accept Sheikh Zayed Book Award due to human rights concerns. [Photo: AFP]
German philosopher Jurgen Habermas rejected a literary award by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sunday over human rights concerns in the Gulf country.

Earlier, Habermas accepted the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, one of the Arab World’s most prestigious and well-funded prizes, but then reversed the decision after reactions from the German media.

“I announced that I would accept this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award. It was a wrong decision, which I correct hereby,” he said in a statement shared with the Spiegel Online news website.

“I didn’t sufficiently make clear to myself the very close connection of the institution, which awards these prizes in Abu Dhabi, with the existing political system there,” he added.

Habermas had received the award for ‘Cultural Personality of the Year’ for 2021.

Following the German philosopher’s decision, the award issued a statement early Monday on its website.

“The Sheikh Zayed Book Award expresses its regret for Mr. Jurgen Habermas’ decision to retract his acceptance of the award but respects it. The award embodies the values of tolerance, knowledge and creativity while building bridges between cultures and will continue to fulfill this mission.”

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