You have the right to express your opinion and no one can take that right from you.

Acceptance speech – Omar Al-Qahtani

I want to start out with saying thank you to everyone for being here and supporting us. This prize is extremely important because it shows how my father’s work and efforts have not been forgotten.

I can’t understand why he would be locked up for something he didn’t do wrong. My father is a really smart guy who works hard for our future and for everyone’s future. He only did what was right, and should not be in prison. Everybody has the right to say what they want. Everybody has the right to freedom of speech. This freedom is extremely important for a society because without it, we only follow one opinion.

The last time I saw my father was two years ago. I visited him in jail. The first time, my brothers and I waited for a full day and in the end, we left without seeing him, because he did not want us to see him with handcuffs. But the next time we came, we finally got to see him, without handcuffs.

Hugging my father for the first time in four years was an indescribable feeling. I felt joy and sadness all at the same time but, mostly, I felt lucky: lucky to have such an amazing father and lucky to be able to see him again.

We sat with him for about an hour, but it felt like ten minutes. I never wanted it to end. He was smiling the whole time and listening carefully to all our stories. He advised us to concentrate and do well at school. “If you fail, I fail,” he told me.

That’s why I am trying my best in my college to have a better future and to make my father proud. But, my goal is not only to be successful but to help others in need, just like what my father is doing.

Before he was locked up, my father would let me skip school and told me to come with him to his trial. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it, but the thing that I can’t forget is how confident and positive he always was. He took the trial like it was nothing.

I want to send a message to my father: Dear father, I know that you can hear me now. Keep going and doing what you think is right! No one should tell you what do or what to say. You have the right to express your opinion and no one can take that right from you.

And to everyone around the world who is hearing me now: I ask you to stand by my father, to keep his story and his beliefs alive. If all of us come together and listen to each other, we can create change.