The Secular Republican Committee (Comité de la laïcité républicaine), one of the largest and most important secular foundations in France, has honored Nadine Abou Zaki, with its 4th International Secular Award (Prix de la Laïcité) at a special ceremony held at the Paris municipality headed by the First Assistant to the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo with the participation of a number of French and Lebanese personalities.
The Honorary President of the foundation Patrick Kessel welcomed the attendees who included from the Lebanese side the Lebanese Ambassador, Mr. Boutros Assaker, the Arab League Representative Mr. Nassif Hetti, the former Lebanese Minister of Culture, Mr. Ghassan Salame, the writer Amin Maalouf, and the General Manager of Al Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group, Raouf Abou Zaki.
Mr. Kessel declared that: “Lebanon the country of diversity, is in bad of secularism, and it is our pleasure to honor today a brave Lebanese journalist who is contributing in an effective to achieving this ideal common goal.”
Also honored with the award was Mr. Lecointre, a French scientist and professor of natural history. The foundation gives this award, once every two years, to one French and one foreign personality who champion secularism. The award was previously given to the French Minister Fadela Amara, and the Danish deputy of a Syrian origin, Nasser Khodor.
This year’s award's committee was headed by Mr. Jean Pierre Shanjo, the scientist and professor at the Pasteur Institute.
Anne Hidalgo who is an activist in the French Women’s Movement presented the Award to the winners and addressed Nadine Abou Zaki saying: ”I admire your work in support of women’s causes in a region that needs a great deal of struggle for women and their rights, secularism cannot be separated from this struggle.”
Nadine Abou Zaki thanked the committee for honoring her and said: “To receive this award means to me not only appreciation and worth for what I have tried to achieve so far in my work, but also a huge responsibility that obliges me to walk down a more difficult path, full with growing risks, but it is a clearer path than that which has led me to this honoring ceremony.”
Nadine Abou Zaki considered that “philosophy is the natural language for secularism” and stressed what she described as the “key role of women”, and the relation between secularism and religion. She also called on secularists to open up to religion through a free and rational dialogue, in light of all that religion encompasses of reason and liberation including what concerns women. She added that "the culture of dialogue and reason at its most extreme openness is the foundation of secularism even in its most restrictive and narrow sense.”