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Arab Spring activists win Sakharov Prize

The European Parliament said Thursday that it would award the Sakharov prize for freedom to five Arab Spring activists. One posthumous prize goes to the Tunisian fruit seller whose self-immolation in December sparked the Arab Spring.


AFP - Five Arab Spring activists have won the European parliament's Sakharov prize awarded to campaigners for freedom, a parliamentary source said Thursday.

The laureats are Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, awarded posthumously, Egyptian militant Asmaa Mahfouz, Libyan dissident Ahmed al-Zubair Ahmed al-Sanusi, Syrian lawyer Razan Zeitouneh and Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, the source added.

The Arab Spring revolutions were sparked by Bouazizi, who set himself alight on December 17 in the city of Sidi Bouzid and died in hospital two weeks later.

His actions lead to a popular uprising in Tunisia that brought down the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and spread through the Arab world.

Mahfouz founded the 6 April youth movement in Egypt that inspired thousands of Egyptians to protest in Cairo's Tahir Square, leading to the downfall of veteran president Hosni Mubarak.

Libyan dissident al-Sanusi, 77, spent 31 years behind bars for opposing Moamer Kadhafi's regime.

The prize also honours two Syrians who are part of the current uprising in Syria: Zeitouneh, a 34-year-old lawyer leading the groups coordinating the revolt against Presidnet Bashar al-Assad, and Farzat, a caricaturist who was badly beaten in August.

Past winners of the prize include anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and former UN chief Kofi Annan.

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