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DW Freedom of Speech Award for Raif Badawi


raif_badawi_posting_600x240pxImprisoned blogger Raif Badawi of Saudi Arabia is to receive DW’s first “Freedom of Speech” award. DW is awarding the prize as part of its international online awards “The Bobs.”

“The Deutsche Welle Executive Board decided unanimously in favor of Raif Badawi,” said DW Director General Peter Limbourg. “He stands, in an exemplary way, for the brave and fearless commitment to the human right of freedom of expression. Our award sends a signal and contributes to bringing his fate into the public spotlight. We hope this will increase pressure on those responsible in Saudi Arabia to release Badawi.”

The 31-year-old blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced by Saudi authorities in May 2014 to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a major fine. The first 50 lashes were administered on January 9.

Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told Deutsche Welle from Canada: “I am thrilled! The DW Freedom of Speech Award sends a clear message to the Saudi regime. It is a disgrace that Raif is still sitting in prison – especially at a time when Saudi Arabia fights against the ‘Islamic State’ group and its disregard for human rights. I am extremely thankful to Deutsche Welle for its support.”

Prize ceremony at the Global Media Forum

As part of the 11th annual competition The Bobs – Best of Online Activism, Deutsche Welle commends outstanding online activists and projects. This year, DW established the Freedom of Speech Award to honor a person or initiative that promotes freedom of expression in the digital world in an exceptional way.

The winner of the Freedom of Speech Award as well as the winners of The Bobs three jury categories will be recognized on June 23 at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany.

Fearless for freedom of expression

Raif Badawi has fought for freedom of expression in his country for years. The website he created, Free Saudi Liberals, addresses political and societal grievances in Saudi Arabia. He published, for example, a sarcastic article about the religious police and named a major university in his country a den of terrorists. He also wrote about Valentines Day, which is also forbidden in Saudi Arabia. In June 2012, he was again arrested and accused of insulting Islam, religious leaders and politicians. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, fled Saudi Arabia with their three children in 2013 and found political asylum in Canada.

Make your submissions now!


02-Starting-NOW_Bobs-2015_Milestoneposting_600x240pxThe Bobs are underway with a new look and orientation. In addition to the Jury Categories of Social Change, Privacy & Security and Arts & Media, Deutsche Welle will also hand out the Freedom of Speech Award.

The international Jury will determine the winners in the contest’s multilingual categories while an online vote open to all Internet users will determine the winners of The Bobs’ 14 language-specific categories.

Taking submissions until March 12

Starting today, you can make submissions for all 17 categories at The Bobs. Then it will be up to the jury to decide on a list of nominees in each category. The more exciting, innovative and interesting your submissions now, the better the contest will be when it comes time to determine the winners.

Who can participate?

Submissions must be in one of the contest’s languages (which are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukrainian). Websites need to be freely accessible to the general public – that means no passwords allowed. Don’t get hung up on online formats, the contest is open to Facebook pages, YouTube channels, microblogs, podcasts – whatever online material you find interesting and inspiring is welcome at The Bobs. Check out our Rules if you’re aching for more detailed regulations.

Jury Categories

The jury members will get together in Berlin in may to determine the winners of the three Jury Categories, which consist of nominees from each of The Bobs’ 14 languages. The themes of these categories are Social Change, Privacy & Security and Arts & Media.

Voting Categories

But that’s not all at The Bobs. There are also 14 language-specific categories (one for each of the contest’s languages). Winners in these categories will be determined by an online vote stating on April 9.

On May 3 all the winners will be announced right here at thebobs.com. Check out the Timeline for the contest’s other important dates.

Freedom of Speech Award

For the first time, Deutsche Welle will be handing out the Freedom of Speech Award. It honors a person or initiative that takes an exemplary stand for human rights and freedom of expression in the digital world.

The winner of the Freedom Speech Award and winners in the three Jury Categories will all be invited to receive their awards as part of Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany, (June 22-24). The theme of this year’s conference is Media and Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.

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All the winners of The Bobs 2014


Congrats!After two days of passionate discussions and debate, our international jury selected the winners of The Bobs 2014 Jury Awards.

But the jury weren’t the only ones hard at work. Internet users from around the world have spent the last four weeks voting for their favorites among the 154 finalists in 20 categories. Over 70,000 votes were cast and the winners of the People’s Choice Awards have been decided.

Our congratulations go out to all the winners of The Bobs – Best of Online Activism!

The Jury Award winners are

Best Blog

The photo blog by Egyptian Mosa’ab Elshamy won the Best Blog prize. His impressive photos and photo essays on current events in Cairo won over jurors, as did his work to present a view of modern cultural life in Egypt. He recently accompanied young Mahraganat musicians through the underground clubs of the Egyptian capital. During the Egyptian revolution, his work also appeared on the cover of “Time” and among the magazine’s list of top 10 pictures of the year in 2013. “Mosa’ab Elshamy illustrates in a very impressive way the rifts that exist in Egyptian society,” jury member Tarek Amr said. Fellow jury member Renata Avila added: “Although we do not all speak Arabic, we can all understand the power of his images.”

Best Social Activism

The website Visualizing Palestine won Jury Award in the Best Social Activism category. The team behind the site creates and presents fact-based infographics illustrating the circumstances Palestinians and Palestinian refugees face on a daily basis. While many of the graphics address issues dealing with relations to Israel, Visualizing Palestine also confronts environmental issues, social topics and education. “The issue of the Palestinians is an extremely emotional and polarizing one,” said jury member Georgia Popplewell, the managing director of Global Voices Online. “Visualizing Palestine brings facts to that discussion without sacrificing emotion.”

Most Creative & Original

The winner of The Bobs award in the Most Creative and Original category takes micro-blogging to the extreme. As millions of ultra-short, 140-character or less messages careen around the Internet, the artist behind weicombo gets his point across using just one Chinese character. While he does not provide his name for safety reasons, weicombo’s creator comments on current events by slightly altering the character to lend his posts a touch of irony and satire. His posts present readers with a daily guessing game of inferring the point he is looking to get across. Word games and puzzles have a long tradition in China, according to The Bobs jury member Tienchi Martin-Liao. “Weicombo has found a very creative and clever way to get around censorship in China,” she said. “His posts are not only political but also entertaining and his readers love him for that.”

Global Media Forum Award

“From Information to Participation” is the theme of the 2014 Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum as well as for The Bobs special Global Media Forum award, which was won by “Khabar Lahariya.” The weekly, local language newspaper has been written, published and delivered by a community of women across rural parts of India for the past 12 years. It connects with thousands of people in parts of the country’s north and northeast that seldom get the attention of national media. “The newspaper is a shining example that a functioning democracy is dependent on access to information for all people,” said jury member and blogger Rohini Lakshane.

Best Innovation

The BanglaBraille project enables the production of school textbooks to be printed in braille for visually impaired students in Bangladesh. The project’s organizers also create audio versions of the textbooks that students download and listen to. There are currently more than 50,000 visually impaired students in Bangladesh without access to educational materials. The BanglaBraille team assembled a network of volunteers who digitize the books and conduct fundraising for the project. “BanglaBraille has fundamentally improved the lives of many students in Bangladesh and is fighting against a problem that authorities in our country have criminally neglected,” said jury member Shahidul Alam of Bangladesh.

Reporters Without Borders Award

The Bobs special award, presented in conjunction with the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, went to the Ukrainian project YanukovychLeaks. The site presents the work of a group of Ukrainian journalists who worked to salvage and report on records which former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his supporters threw into a pool at a huge presidential estate while fleeing the country after the Maidan revolution. YanukovychLeaks aims to digitize and catalogue the records and make them available to the public. “It is especially important during times of crisis to support independent journalists,” said Christian Mihr, head of Reporters Without Borders’ German branch and a member of The Bobs jury. The project was also praised by jury member Renata Avila of Guatemala for providing access to the complete documents. “You can use the files to support different opinions,” she said. “But citizens can see all the information for themselves and decide for themselves how important it is, and what it means.”

Congratulations to the winners of The Bobs’ Jury and People’s Choice Awards

Winners of this year’s Jury Awards will be invited to receive their prize as part of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum on June 30, in Bonn, Germany.