Tolerance award goes to Egyptian and Tunisian people.
BEIRUT: An Arab network advocating tolerance granted its annual award Friday to the Egyptian and Tunisian people for their successful uprisings which toppled their autocratic regimes.
Wesam Abdel-Alim, a journalist from Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper and Abdel-Nasser Oweini, a Tunisian lawyer and activist, received the Arab Tolerance Award on behalf of their countrymen during a ceremony at the Issam Fares Hall in the American University of Beirut.
The event was organized by the Arab Network for Tolerance, the Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies and the Permanent Peace Movement.
Also, the ANT launched the activities of its third annual conference, which will start Saturday. The two-day conference is entitled "The Courses of Change and the Horizons of Transformation in the Arab World."
Founded by the Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies in June 2008, the ANT is a regional network serving as a forum for discussing new strategies for boosting human rights in the region.
Speaking at the ceremony were the head of the Permanent Peace Movement Fadi Abi Allam; Sayyed Hani Fahs, a Shitte cleric and an advocate of inter-religious dialogue; Abdul-Hussein Shaaban, a founding member of ANT; and Iyad Barghouthy, ANT president.
Barghouthy outlined the reasons behind ANT's decision to grant the award to the Egyptian and Tunisian people: young people's efforts to achieve democracy, freedom and human dignity and eliminate all forms of injustice.
"The second reason is the civilized, peaceful and nonviolent means that were used by the people of Tunisia and Egypt and keenness on preserving the moral dimension of the popular movement despite provocation and murder by the former regimes," he said.
Solidarity and tolerance shown by protesters were also taken into consideration, he added.
Around three weeks of nationwide popular protests forced Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to step down in February, a few weeks after Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted following the outbreak of similar unrest.
Abdel-Alim, who participated in the protests on a daily basis, said the Egyptian revolution was characterized by solidarity.
"I witnessed that in Tahrir Square [the scene of protests], when young people dealt with each other with utmost tolerance and love," she said. "I also experienced tolerance between Copts and Muslims in the square, despite efforts by the regime to picture that there were problems between the two groups," she added.
"The Muslims were protecting Christians, and Christians were protecting Muslims," Abdel-Alim explained.
Oweini told The Daily Star that tolerance was evident in Tunisia's uprising as well. "Not a single official from the previous regime was assaulted, although they committed crimes against people," he said.
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