Prominent philosopher refuses UAE award

Jurgen Habermas announced his decision not to accept the Sheikh Zayed Book Award over the Emirates’ bad record on human rights.

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Prominent German philosopher Jurgen Habermas did not accept the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-granted literary award due to human rights concerns in the Gulf country. Thus, Habermas reversed his decision, which he previously announced to accept the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award is accepted as one of the most prestigious and well-funded prizes in the Arab World.

Earlier, German media heavily criticized the prominent philosopher for his decision to accept the award. It is believed that Habermas changed his mind over those reactions targeting him.

In his statement provided to German news website Spiegel Online, Habermas said, “I announced that I would accept this year’s Sheikh Zayed Book Award. It was a wrong decision, which I correct hereby.”

Speaking on the reason for changing his mind, Habermas stated that “I did not 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.”

The German philosopher had been awarded “Cultural Personality of the Year” for 2021.

The institution issued a statement following Habermas’ decision on its website, indicating that “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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