Welcome Mike Schubert

Dear Ms Shima Babaei,
Dear Ms Ursula von der Leyen,
Dear Ms Düzen Tekkal,
Dear Ms Jasmin Tabatabei.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
dear members of the M100 Advisory Board,

One year ago, on 15 September 2022, we honoured the people of Ukraine here in this house for their struggle against the Russian aggressor.
We expressed our solidarity with the courage of the Ukrainians, born of desperation and backbone, in their struggle for democracy and freedom.
We have shown our solidarity with them for freedom and human rights.

In their homeland,
in Europe and
all over the world.

That was on 15 September 2022.

Just one day later, on 16 September, a young woman named Jina Mahsa Amini died in Iranian custody.
Arrested and murdered by her own government’s uniformed officers.
Because she, like countless Ukrainians, stood up to those who wanted to deprive her of her freedom.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year we are presenting the M100 Media Award for the 19th time.
For the second year in a row, it goes to an individual who accepts this award on behalf of a greater cause:
For fighting against a seemingly overwhelming opponent and for freedom.
But there is a very clear distinction from last year’s laureate:

This time, the aggression and oppression does not come from another, a foreign country, but from one’s own homeland:
From Iran itself.
From its own government.
From its own fellow human beings, by a despicable regime and its morality police.

For years, Iranian women have been protesting against the regime in their own country.
A protest that gained sad attention last year with the violent and brutal reaction of the Iranian government.
A protest that continues this year undaunted and courageous for a greater cause; until hopefully in the end the realisation that men and women are also, but not only, equal before the law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today we honour with the M100 Media Award the “Woman – Life – Freedom” movement in Iran, which, despite threats of violence and draconian punishments, stands up for women’s rights as they are actually taken for granted in the civilised world.

Dear Ms Shima Babaei,
I am very pleased to welcome you here in Potsdam, the capital of the state of Brandenburg, for the 19th M100 Media Award ceremony.
I am also pleased to welcome the Minister of Science, Dr Manja Schüle, and my new colleague Prof. Dr Walid Hafezi, who spent his childhood in Tehran and now lives in Potsdam.

How does the struggle of Iranian women against their own government fit in with tranquil Potsdam, you may ask.
A brief look at our history will suffice here:
Potsdam is a truly fitting place for this year’s award from two perspectives.
For on the one hand, we Potsdamers rightly invoke a long tradition of tolerance and togetherness and the Potsdam Edict of Tolerance.
Yes, Potsdam would not be Potsdam without the many refugees and displaced persons who built up and shaped the city.

Just last week I met with an architect who last year left behind not only her homeland, Iran, but also her two daughters and her husband in Iran, hoping to build a new life here, in Potsdam.
She allowed me to tell a little of her story.
I agreed with her not to mention her name, because her family is still in Iran and I would like to avoid in any case that they are punished for the courage of their mother and wife. For her, Potsdam is the path to a different, a hopeful future, even if she still has to overcome many obstacles here.

Nevertheless, I hope that in the not too distant future she, too, will shape and mould our city, because people like her shape this wonderful side of Potsdam, of which we are rightly proud here.
For Potsdam is and always has been a city of hope for a new life.
And yet, on the other side, we have a dark, even a sad past.

Because in Potsdam too
– let’s not forget this –
in different eras, by different uniformed people,
young people were locked away, tortured and murdered because they did not want to conform to the ideologies that the rulers dictated.

In Potsdam, too
– and not just once in history –
there were uniformed people who persecuted, deported and murdered innocent people with brutal violence.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I do not want to give a digression on German history here, but I would like to tell you: In the end, we have overcome these dark chapters, whose testimonies you can see, for example, in impressive memorials in Leistikowstraße or Lindenstraße.

I would like to give you the confidence that you too will overcome a dark chapter in your history.
It is therefore a special honour for me to know you, dear Ms Shima Babaei, among us.
You, like many other women from Iran, unite the courage, determination and will to fight of the Iranian movement “Women – Life – Freedom”, to which we dedicate the M100 Media Award today.

Your personal story, representative of that of many other Iranian women, affects me and I wish you that your dream becomes reality and that you can live without fear for your life or that of your father and many other people in your homeland.
That you can work what you want.
That you are allowed to wear what you like.
That you can say what you have to say in public without being punished for it.

Thank you, dear Ms Shima Babaei,
for accepting this award today on behalf of the many people in your country who stand in the way of this regime, who fight for reform, and I look forward to hearing your words later.
My thanks tonight also go to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Despite your busy calendar, with your “State of the European Union” speech yesterday to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, this morning in Copenhagen and your trip to the UN in New York tomorrow, you have agreed to give the laudatory speech at the award ceremony for the Woman Life Freedom Movement.

I thank you and it shows how important it is to you as a politician, as a representative of the European community of values and as a human being this issue is important to you.

It also shows the value and recognition that the M100 Colloquium and the M100 Media Award enjoy beyond Potsdam. In the morning, 80 journalists from different countries discussed the topic “Between Ambition and Disarray – The Future of Democracy”. This is unfortunately once again a very topical issue, which in view of the developments in some countries in Europe and also in Germany is probably one of the most discussed topics at the moment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
the desire for more democracy in Iran is older than the protests of the women’s movement, which have been in focus since autumn 2022. For many years, there have been movements and efforts by women or faith communities against the Iranian regime. Against oppression, for freedom and equality.

It is crucial that we as an international community support the efforts of the Iranian women’s movement and all people in Iran who are working for democracy. By providing a platform for these women and men to voice their concerns, we can help bring about positive change and lay the foundation for a more inclusive and democratic society in Iran.
Let us take today’s award ceremony as an inspiration to continue working together to promote equality, human rights and democracy everywhere in the world.

The Iranian women’s movement shows us, just like our own Potsdam history, that the will to overcome obstacles is too strong for ossified and encrusted regimes,
that it is possible to build a better future for all.Please, representatives of the media, continue to carry this struggle to the public, because we must not tire of looking to Iran.

Thank you very much.