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Sunday, February 9, 2003

German Media Prize Award

Queen Rania receives German Media Prize and challenges media leaders to capture the truth and document stories of common humanity

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Baden Baden) At a time when the world is paralyzed by fear and cynicism over a conflict-ridden Arab region, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah challenged media leaders to capture the truth and document stories of common humanity as a basis for building bridges of understanding between the Eastern and Western Worlds.

"At a time when many are immobilized by fear, vulnerability or sheer cynicism, you [the media] are relentless in your determination to report and document the daily stories of our common humanity," Queen Rania told over 600 political, business and media leaders in a ceremony in Baden Baden, Germany upon receiving the German Media Prize for her efforts in encouraging tolerance and bridging cross-cultural divides.

In the award's 11-year history, Queen Rania was the first female along with Queen Sylvia of Sweden to receive this prestigious prize presented annually to world leaders who achieved press coverage of unusual importance, and who are acknowledged for setting a positive example through their involvement in civil society, media, and politics.

Queen Rania, who has been articulate about the need for cross-cultural dialogue and understanding was speaking in a country she described as having had the "courage and resolve" to bring down walls of separation.

Queen Rania was referring to Germany's determination to bring down the Berlin wall that separated East Germany from its West for years.

Stressing that the media has a vital role in contributing to building bridges of human understanding, Queen Rania, accompanied by a group of Jordanian journalists, described the media as the guardians and guarantors of one of the most basic of human rights in the 21st century- the right to know.

"You are the ones to whom we turn to transport us to the furthest corners of our globe, to give us the real story behind the headlines, to fill in the gaps and to answer some of the more puzzling questions that confront us."

Despite the fact that globalization and 21st century technology have bridged borders between civilizations, it has also been used to the advantage of those she described as "perpetually narrow-minded."

We are "rudely awakened by the realization that what we thought was a straightforward path towards globalization, was in fact, one intersected by unwelcome detours and barriers. The valued tools, on which we relied to bring about so much good, were equally accessible to the hands of evil."

Since 1992, the German Media Prize, founded by Karlheins Koegel, of German Media Control, a radio and television research center, has been awarded to a multitude of important and renowned individuals who have set a positive example through their involvement in society, media, and politics.

This is the second time that the Jordanian leadership has been awarded this prize in recognition of its peace efforts. His Majesty the late King Hussein received the 1997 prize for his dedication and commitment to peace, in an award ceremony attended by over 400 people in the presence of President Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres.

Upon receiving the prize, the late King spoke of the need to work towards peace through coming together in harmony, mutual respect and cooperation in all fields.

"It so happens, that the one dearest to my heart stood here five years ago, receiving the same honor that I receive today. King Hussein was a man who personified all the values that we aspire to. He dedicated his life to the relentless pursuit of peace," Queen Rania concluded.

Reflecting the sentiments of an apprehensive Arab region over a continued Palestinian-Israeli conflict and a potential war against Iraq, Queen Rania said people's fear and cynicism is hindering their ability to have trust in their future.

"I admit that there are many days when it would be easy to fall prey to hopelessness and cynicism. Hopelessness, after all, absolves us from the responsibility of doing anything. But this apathy represents, I believe, the ultimate danger. People trapped by failed hopes and broken dreams cannot build a strong and dynamic future."

But, Queen Rania said she was still hopeful. She stressed however, the need for people to start focusing on their similarities rather than differences, to eliminate what she called an "unfair characterization" of each other that divides the world into an "us versus them."

"Appreciating our common humanity through dialogue is a first step to bringing down the invisible walls that encircle our hearts and minds," said Queen Rania referring to the tangible gap that exists between the West and Islamic World.

"Walls do not belong in a century that has no place for zero-sum games. Today, there is no such thing as absolute power, complete domination or total victory. In this day and age, success can only be achieved through win-win scenarios, through negotiation, mutual understanding and compromise. Our shared fate means that we can either all win together or all lose together," Queen Rania said.

In her honoring speech of Queen Rania, Sabina Christiansen a leading figure in the German media praised the Queen's work and involvements in improving the life of women and children and for her efforts in building bridges between the Arab World and the West.

"Your appearance, commitment and biography define you as a bridge builder between the Arab World and the West…you expressed clearly your conviction that peace and tolerance are not just goals but rather resources, which are fundamental components of our global system," Christiansen said.

Among the leaders who also received the prize are German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1992, French President Francois Mitterand in 1994, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin who received the award jointly in 1995, South African President Nelson Mandela