Tunisia’s Nawaat.org won the media watchdog’s Google-sponsored €2,500 ($3,450) Netizen Prize for efforts to promote freedom of expression online.
Nawaat.org played an important role rallying anti-government protesters in Tunisia, where President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime routinely quashed dissent and strictly controlled traditional media. Protesters shared the images on Facebook and other sites, and encouraged more demonstrations against Ben Ali, which eventually reached the capital, Tunis. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, and what some called the “Jasmine Revolution” went on to spark similar protests and civil disobedience across the Middle East and North Africa.
This year, groups from China, Bahrain and Thailand were also in the running for the prize — in its second year. The prize is backed by Google, because, as regional president Carlo d’Asaro Biondo said in a statement, it “defends our company’s core values” of making information accessible to all.