|Aboubakr Jamai (La Opinión de Murcia)|
The Gebran Tueni Award is the annual prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) that honours an editor or publisher from the Arab region.
Mr Jamaï received the award from Bengt Braun, Past President and Senior Ambassador of WAN-IFRA, and Nayla Tueni, Board Member and Deputy General Manager of the An Nahar daily and daughter of assassinated publisher Gebran Tueni.
The award recognises Mr Jamaï's constant struggle in publishing some of the region's finest independent journalism while dealing with a monarchy that, despite promises of reform, prefers to maintain control of the Moroccan media.
"Morocco is one country where there is a need for change, and where editors and publishers in the independent press have long been advocating for freedom of expression," said Mr Braun in presenting the award in the 12 April ceremony. "The man we honour here today, Aboubakr Jamaï, is a pioneer in this work, and the newspaper he founded, 'Le Journal Hebdomadaire', established a reputation for being a leading and critical voice in the Moroccan press.
"As the country moved towards a more open and democratic society, 'Le Journal' sought to hold authorities to their commitments to tackling corruption, transparency and ending human rights abuses. Sadly, they were not entirely successful. The newspaper was closed in 2010, the victim of an advertising boycott, debts and a substantial 270,000 Euro fine. But its irreverent tone, stinging analysis and spirit set an example for the independent press throughout the region, and is celebrated today with this award," said Mr Braun.
Mr Jamaï said he was "profoundly honoured" to receive the award. "I am especially honoured because this award is named for a man who paid the highest price that there is in his quest for truth and freedom," he said.
Gebran Tueni was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 2005. The award honours the editor or publisher who demonstrates the values incarnated in Mr Tueni: attachment to freedom of the press, courage, leadership, ambition, and high managerial and professional standards.
Mr Jamaï continued, "I have the honor to receive this award when our region is experiencing a development unprecedented in recent history. Our people have clearly expressed their need for emancipation from authoritarianism imposed by figureheads. That demand for freedom means that differences among citizens must be mediated not by figureheads but by means of law and public debate. Our region has more need than ever of the kind of journalism that today is gagged. It requires journalism that informs and structures, that renders intelligible the complexity of public affairs. Journalism that will help us build a common future of free peoples."
Mr Jamaï has taught courses on political Islam and politics in the Middle East at the University of San Diego in the United States and is the founder and current editor of French-language news website Lakome.fr (http://fr.lakome.com/ ).