This article originally appeared on TwentyThirty.
Two years after the Arab Spring, Belabbes Benkredda founded The Munathara Initiative, the Arab world’s largest debate organization. It aims to give youth, women and marginalized communities the opportunity for participation in society, politics, and governance.
On Munathara, everyone can upload a video stating his or her opinion on a specific topic. The best videos are nominated through an internet voting and its creators are invited to a live television debate. Until now, Munathara has received more than 3,500 video submissions, registered 70,000 members and reached an audience of over ten million viewers with their television debates.
Belabbes is deeply convinced that the freedom of opinion and the freedom of speech are necessary for democratic processes. If these freedoms are guaranteed, people have access to the public sphere. Opinions, that are generated in the public sphere and could influence the outcome of an election, are more legitimate then.
Belabbes ideas grew during his studies in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where he took part in the courses of Jürgen Habermas about public sphere theory. In 2013, he won The Civic Innovator Award of the National Democratic Institute for his engagement to foster citizen’s participation.
This article is presented in collaboration with TwentyThirty.
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