The Roosevelt Foundation, a private establishment dedicated to the ideals and achievements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, has presented Al Jazeera with its 2012 Freedom of Speech and Expression Award.
The foundation recognised Al Jazeera Media Network for “its longstanding efforts to provide independent, impartial news for an international audience and to offer a voice to a diversity of perspectives from under-reported regions”.
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Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network, accepted the award at a ceremony on May 12, 2012 in Nieuwe Kerk in Middelburg, Netherlands in the presence of Queen Beatrix.
He said: “It is with immense pride and sincere humility that I accept the Freedom of Speech and Expression Award on behalf of Al Jazeera Media Network.
“Al Jazeera launched in 1996 as the first independent Arabic news channel in the world, with a vision to provide unbiased news coverage in a region where independent and balanced reporting did not exist.
“From the beginning, Al Jazeera led the way in putting the human being at the heart of its news agenda – with the opinion and the other opinion as the foundation of our journalistic values.
“Now, with the largest news network of bureaux across the globe, we stand tall as an international media network – with journalists, channels, and initiatives that transcend boundaries and challenge conventional wisdom.
“At the heart of Al Jazeera’s strength is our employees. They are our biggest asset. The courage of our people who risk their lives on a daily basis serves as an example of true heroism and courage.”
Previous winners of Freedoms Medals have included Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, J. William Fulbright, Arthur Miller, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Terry Waite, Vaclav Havel, Mary Robinson.
Since 1982, the centenary of US President Franklin D Roosevelt’s birth, the Roosevelt Institute and the Roosevelt Stichting have awarded Four Freedoms medals each year to individuals who exemplify the vision of the Four Freedoms that President Roosevelt outlined in his famous January 6, 1941 speech.
The laureates are chosen, based on their lifetime commitment to these ideals, which President Roosevelt, described as essential conditions of human liberty.
A full text of Al Jazeera Media Networks’ acceptance speech can be viewed here.