Is an Arab Spring activist set to win the Nobel Peace Prize?
With the committee expected use the Nobel Peace Prize to promote human rights and social media, experts predict an Arab Spring activist will win.
Experts predict the Nobel Peace Prize will be given tomorrow to an Arab Spring activist – though which one is under debate – as part of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s expected focus on human rights and the role of the social media this year.Skip to next paragraph
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Kristian Berg Harpviken, director at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, believes the award will go to Esraa Abdel Fattah, co-founder of Egypt's April 6 movement, which was established first as a Facebook group in the spring of 2008. The movement is credited with playing arole in the 2011 uprisings that led to regime change in Egypt.
Asle Sveen, a Norwegian historian, predicts the award may go to Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian blogger and university lecturer, who was critical of the Tunisian regime prior to the uprising of December 2010.
The Nobel committee appears eager to contribute to current political processes with the award. The Arab Spring began in December 2010 with protests in Tunisia and has spread across the Middle East and North Africa. The revolutionary wave has led to the overthrow of three heads of state, most recently Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
“The current (Nobel) committee under [Thorbjørn] Jagland as chair has been very clear that it wants to be in tune with the times and even more than that, wants the prize to have an impact on political developments,” says Mr. Harpviken.
A third possible Arab Spring candidate is Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian marketing executive for Google, whose online activism over the brutal police murder of Khalid Said helped set the state for the Egyptian uprising, adds Harpviken.
A woman's year?
However, there are sentiments leaning in favor of a female Arab Spring winner this year, particularly in the wake of the recent death of Wangari Maathai, the last woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the high concentration of women on the Nobel Committee, according to Mr. Sveen.
Ms. Maathai, the Kenyan social activist behind the Green Belt Movement, received the prize in 2004. The year earlier, the award went to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer who founded the Defender of Human Rights Center in Iran. Out of the 97 individuals who have received the prize, 12 have been women. The first was Austrian novelist and pacifist Baroness Bertha von Suttner in 1905.