Passion for Freedom is pleased to announced this year’s Freedom Books. This rare collection of books approaches the topic of freedom of expression from different angles; from freedom of speech and the right to be offended, to freedom to tell the story of one’s beloved husband who is imprisoned for his beliefs, to freedom to decide what to wear, how to behave and to have full control over your body, especially when you are a woman.
The right to offend and be offended comes with free speech. When you try to shutdown freedom of expression, the phrase “I find that offensive” becomes a weapon of censorship, conformity and indifference. Passion for Freedom has chosen this book by Claire Fox as she powerfully argues against it; she calls for the new generation to toughen up and makes a virtue of the right to be offensive.
Raif Badawi, The Voice of Freedom: My Husband, Our Story by Ensaf Haidar and Andrea C Hoffmann, 2016
Raif Badawi was imprisoned in 2012. In 2015 Passion for Freedom proudly recognised Badawi along with others for fighting for freedom with their words and pens. This year, Passion For Freedom nominates a book written by his wife, a relentless campaigner of her husband’s release, where she shares her side of the story from the beginnings of their clandestine relationship as a couple to the present day, when the fight for freedom of expression in one of the most secretive totalitarian regimes in the world – Saudi Arabia – still goes on.
The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War by Robert Bevan, 2007/2016 UK
Passion for Freedom nominates this book in order to point out to a “cultural genocide” that was and is happening around the world during each war. When architecture gets destroyed, alongside monuments, sculptures, paintings, cultural relics and religious artefacts, a big part of the nation’s identity is destroyed for ever. Increasingly, this is treated as a tool of war alongside rapes, enslavement and imprisonment of local communities. Passion for Freedom wants to recognise the importance of cultural heritage and the prevention of its further annihilation in war torn regions around the world.
The New Philistines by Sohrab Ahmari, 2016 Iran/UK
As Ahmari puts it: “The quest for truth, freedom and the sacred has been thrust aside to make room for identity politics. Mystery, individuality and beauty are out”. Passion for Freedom has nominated this book to direct the reader again to the highest principles that art brings into our lives, where the appreciation of beauty, truth and freedom touches us on absolute level making us to leave relative differences aside. Using art as a political weapon is undoubtedly important, but we must not forget that above all conflicts lies the world of eternal beauty, truth and freedom which we can only get connected through art expressing lasting values.
The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad, 2018 Iran/UK
Masih started the movement “My Stealthy Freedom” on Facebook, drawing the attention of the world to compulsory hijab laws operating in Iran, where women get imprisoned for not wearing a hijab or wearing one that is incorrectly placed, showing too much hair. After extensive protests in Iran in 2017-2018 where women proudly removed their hijabs to demand the right to decide about their bodies and lives, Masih’s work has become even more important. Passion for Freedom fully supports women’s rights around the world to freely express themselves and decide what they want to wear, how they want to behave and have full control over their bodies and lives everywhere in the world. Iran is just the beginning.