MESA Academic Freedom Award

The MESA Academic Freedom Award was established in 2001. It is presented on appropriate occasions in recognition of sustained contributions in support of academic freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, and/or in North America. The award is made by nomination from MESA’s Committee on Academic Freedom to MESA’s Board of Directors. Questions about the award and the nomination procedures may be directed to Sara Palmer at 520-333-2577 ext. 103 or [email protected]

The recipients appear below.

Palestinian NGOs

The 2022 MESA Academic Freedom Award has been given to 6 Palestinian NGOs — Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International - Palestine, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees — for their decades-long pursuit of academic freedom, courageous resilience, and contributions to the field of Middle East Studies.

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Palestine Legal

MESA awarded its 2017 Academic Freedom Award to Palestine Legal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of people in the US who engage in advocacy for and academic inquiry about Palestinian rights.

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Bahraini Resistance

MESA Awarded its 2011 Academic Freedom Award “To all faculty, students and staff of Bahraini institutions of higher education who, by speaking out, documenting abuses, and engaging in myriad other forms of resistance have struggled against a range of  brutal assaults by the Bahraini government upon academic freedom and upon the autonomy and integrity of the country's educational institutions.”

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Advisory Council for the Right to Education, Iran

MESA awarded its 2010 Academic Freedom Award to the Iranian organization, Advocacy Council for the Right to Education (ACRE), also known as the Council for Defending the Right to Education, in recognition of the group’s commitment to the promotion of academic rights and basic rights to freedom of thought and expression and applauds the courage and resolve of its members.

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Radwan Ziadeh

MESA awarded its 2009 Academic Freedom Award to Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, founder and director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies.  Ziadeh has frequently given talks in and outside Syria on the status of human rights and democratic reform in Syria. 

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Sa'ad Eskander

MESA awarded its 2007 Academic Freedom Award to Sa'ad Eskander. Dr. Eskander is the Director-General, Iraq National Library and Archive, where he has carried on a four-year struggle to defend and preserve the cultural heritage of all Iraq for all Iraqis. 

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Joan Wallach Scott and Akbar and Manuchehr Mohammadi

MESA awarded its 2006 Academic Freedom Award to Joan Wallach Scott and Akbar Mohammadi and Manuchehr Mohammadi. Scott received the award for her indispensable efforts as chair of the academic freedom committee of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Akbar Mohammadi and Manuchehr Mohammadi received the award for their leadership roles in the struggle of Iranian university students to achieve and uphold academic and intellectual freedom in Iran. 

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Iranian Writer, Akbar Ganji

MESA awarded the 2005 Academic Freedom Award to Iranian writer Akbar Ganji, a major figure in promoting intellectual and political debate in the Islamic Republic over much of the past ten years and a man who has paid an enormous price for his efforts by spending the last five of those years in some of the country’s most notorious prisons and cell blocks. 

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Matrouk Al-Faleh

MESA Awarded its 2004 Academic Freedom Award to Dr. Matrouk Al-Faleh, professor of political science at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for his courageous advocacy of democratic rights and civil liberties in Saudi Arabia. 

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Saad Eddin Ibrahim

MESA awarded its first Academic Freedom Award in 2001 to Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim in recognition of his dedication to the promotion of democratic rights and civil liberties through his teaching and scholarship, and his commitment as a public intellectual to the principles of free expression and free exchange of information and ideas.

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