The International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII (FSCIRE) are pleased to announce that Eastern Europe correspondent Amanda Coakley was awarded the 2023 Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award for her examination of a new ultraconservative Polish university, Graduates of God.
The international jury awarded second place to Israel-based reporter Melanie Lidman for her piece, From Auschwitz to Iftar: Danish Muslim-Jewish biker club revs up interfaith dialogue.
Third place went to German writer Brigitte Jünger for Maroniten in Israel: Vertriebene Christen kämpfen um ihr Dorf – Maronites in Israel: Displaced Christians fight for their village.
The jury also gave a special mention to journalist Fatima Holder’s article, عن ضحايا نظام لبنان الطائفي و”فوبيا” الحجاب… والجمعيات الغائبة – Hijabi Phobia and the Victims of Lebanon’s Sectarian System.
Here are some jury comments on the winning entries:
An in-depth look at a privately funded college in Poland that aims to produce an elite group of young ultraconservative activists who might influence the future of Europe.
The author’s research is broad, her knowledge of the issues and history is extensive and her writing is clear.
Coakley’s use of quotes and anecdotes convincingly supports her analysis about this school and its goals. It is a riveting read about a growing phenomenon, not just in Poland but in other European countries.
From Auschwitz to Iftar: Danish Muslim-Jewish biker club revs up interfaith dialogue, by Melanie Lidman for The Times of Israel, Israel
A fascinating narrative of a surprising alliance between faith groups who are often at odds. It is a compelling and positive look at how these bikers in Denmark are attacking the racism of their country. Excellent on-the-ground reporting, plenty of details on the places, politics and people involved. Lidman takes the reader into a biker subculture that is unfamiliar to many and lays out a moving account of going together to Auschwitz and what they learned.
This is a story about a little known Christian group in northern Israel and what it means to be a tiny minority in a Muslim dominated region of the religiously contested country. It tells the history and current situation through compelling and complex details of architecture, geography and human interactions. The reporting includes many voices of old and young Maronites, some of whom are seeking to be recognized as a viable minority.
Fascinating look at a somewhat surprising experience where a woman believed she lost a job in the Christian area of Lebanon for wearing a hijab. This explores the complex role of religious attire and identity in employment practices.
The Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award was launched by the IARJ and FSCIRE in Bologna in March 2019 during the annual conference of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe) to honor the work of journalists covering faith and religion in Europe and the countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin. The IARJ and the FSCIRE thank all of the participants in the contest for entering their stories to the second edition of the Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award.
The jury included the following journalists: Jelena Jorgacevic (Serbia), Maria Paz Lopez (Spain), Jonah Mandel (Israel), Larbi Megari (Algeria), Alberto Melloni (Italy), Peggy Fletcher Stack (United States), and Federica Tourn (Italy).
Elisa Di Benedetto of Italy was the IARJ coordinator of the award.