Secularist of the Year

The Secularist of the Year prize was awarded today, to Turkish MP and human rights campaigner Safak Pavey.

Safak Pavey is a member of Turkey’s main opposition party and sits for the Istanbul constituency. She is known for her international work in human rights, the promotion of the rights of women and minorities in Turkey, as well as humanitarian aid and peace-building.

She was also the first disabled woman elected to the Turkish parliament and, in 2012, was awarded a Woman of Courage Award by the White House for her efforts to raise awareness of the plight of those with disabilities in countries where resources are limited.

Safak has spoken out about the need for secularism and the better protection of the rights of women in Turkey, a country where the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that he does not think men and women are equal. Freedom of expression is deeply threatened in Turkey, with the banning of youtube and twitter in the midst of a corruption scandal involving high government officials, and where infamously last year, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say was handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence for “insulting Islam”. Turkey ranks 154th among 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

Congratulations to Safak Pavey. I’m glad to learn of her.

You know who else got an award?

Also honoured at the award ceremony were two nominees, Chris Moos and Abishek Phadnis, both students from the London School of Economics who have, in the past year, challenged their own university and Universities UK over important and fundamental issues such as free speech and gender segregation.

Yes they have.



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