Freedom of expression is under tremendous strain. Nationally and globally, writers, artists and politicians are threatened upon their lives and/or with their livelihoods, or sued in court for expressing particular views. Fear, self-censorship and oppressive anti-defamation laws are in the process of undermining our main liberty: Freedom of expression.
The Sappho Award
The Free Press Society’s freedom of expression award, the Sappho Award, is awarded to a person who has shown uncompromising courage in the struggle for the free word.
With the award follows a sculpture of the poet Sappho which is the symbol of an unconventional sense for freedom and human equality. The sculpture was created by the Danish artist Uwe Max Jensen.
In 2017, the Sappho Award went to the high-profile lawyer Karoly Németh. Karoly has over time taken on a veritable heap of free speech cases – pro bono. His efforts on behalf of debaters, freedom of speech fighters and other individuals, has saved many from legal defeat and/or economic ruin, had he not leapt to the rescue and fought for their freedom of expression in Danish courts.
The British philosopher, social reporter, journalist and composer Roger Scruton received the Sappho Award in 2016. Roger Scruton is England's second most significant conservative philosopher and has for decades diligently opposed the cultural radical opinion monopoly. It has, however, had a cost. As a self-declared conservative in the 1980’s he became a most hated person in leftist oriented circles and had to give up a university career. Instead, however, he became a freelance writer and has since garnered a large amount of readers - also in Denmark.
By 2015, the Swedish concept artist and art critic, Lars Vilks, was awarded the Sappho Award of the year. Lars Vilks lives under constant police protection and has been the target of several assassination attempts since he in 2007 drew the prophet Muhammed as a “roundabout dog” (a pun on the Scandinavian word for a crossbreed dog or “mutt”). Just a few months before he received the award, Vilks was subject to yet another attempt on his life, this time when he was to speak at a gathering at Krudttønden in Copenhagen and a wannabe assassin named Omar El Hussein opened fire at the glass facade of the building with a rifle. A film director named Finn Nørgaard, who was coincidentally passing by attempted to stop him, but was killed. Omar El Hussein managed to escape and later that night he went to the Central Synagogue in Copenhagen, where he killed Dan Uzan, who was on voluntary guard duty to protect a bat mitzvah party being held in the adjoining rooms.
In 2014, the Sappho Award was awarded the Canadian journalist, lawyer and speech-free activist Ezra Levant, who has led a long and successful fight against hate speech legislation in Canada.
The year before, in 2013, the award was given to German SPD politician, Thilo Sarrazin, who is a former member of Bundesbank's Board of Directors and author of the bestseller “Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab”. Read Lone Nørgaard's speech to the award winner here and Sarrazin's subsequent thank you speech here
In 2012, the award went to the Russian journalist and human rights activist, Olga Romanova. Read Anna Libak's (journalist on the Danish weekly Weekendavisen) speech here and Katrine Winkel Holm's report of Romanova's speech here
Rachel Ehrenfeld, American Researcher and Head of the American Center for Democracy, received the award in 2011 for her work against libel-tourism. In 2003, Ehrenfeld published the book “Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed And How To Stop It” in which she documented that a Saudi billionaire, Khalid bin Mahfouz, had financed both al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Read Rachel Ehrenfeld’s thank you speech here
In 2010 the Sappo award was awarded the Canadian author and commentator Mark Steyn for his book “America Alone - The End Of The World As We Know It” and in 2009 The British Journalist and commentator Melanie Phillips received the award for her book “Londonistan”. Click here to read Phillip's speech at the awards ceremony.
The 2008 award was handed to the magazine and Muhammad cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who probably doesn’t require further introduction. In connection with the awarding of the award, the book “The Freedom Icon” was launched, containing select drawings by Kurt Westergaard. The book was printed in 300 copies, all of which are signed by Kurt Westergaard.
The Sappho Award was first awarded in the spring of 2007 and was awarded to Jyllands Posten's Cultural Editor Flemming Rose.