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King honours winners of King Abdullah II Award for World Interfaith Harmony Week
Amman, 27 April 2014

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday acted as patron at the King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week award ceremony.

During the ceremony, which took place at Husseiniya Palace, King Abdullah presented the awards to four winners.

Royal family members and senior officials attended the event.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week was initiated by the King, who put it forward to the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, which unanimously adopted it in October 2010.

The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought established this award in recognition of three activities or publications that best contribute to the promotion of World Interfaith Harmony Week, adopted by the UN (PV/65/a.34) resolution. The week is annually marked in the first week of February.

First prize was awarded to the UN Interfaith Harmony Partners in the Philippines, in recognition of the work they have done, for the third year running, in celebrating harmony week in the city of Zamboanga.

The recipients of second prize was the Centre for Peace and Human Rights in India, in recognition of the initiative they undertook called “An Ordinary Step for Ensuring Extraordinary Peace” in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Third prize was shared between the Gamal Farghaly Sultan Secondary School in Assiut, Egypt, in recognition of their event “Peace, without Prejudice and Faiths Together,” and Uganda for an event at their Goma Health Centre III, in Goma village.

The interfaith week is an annual platform to raise awareness and understanding between followers of the different faiths and promote dialogue and goodwill, through conducting activities and events that spread this message.

The number of functions staged as part of the International Interfaith Harmony Week was 213 in 2011, 290 in 2012, 363 in 2013 and 406 this year.

The idea behind interfaith week comes from the pioneering work of the Common Word initiative that was launched in 2007, which called for Muslim and Christian scholars to engage in constructive dialogue based on shared values: the love of God and love of neighbour without religious prejudice, to strengthen the shared ideological religious ground, as these two messages are at the heart of all three major religions.

Head of the award jury, Her Royal Highness Princess Areej Ghazi, said during her speech: “This is not new to you, Your Majesty, as your blessed reign is full of initiatives that serve Jordan, serve Muslims, serve people in general and serve peace, and that is in spite of the sparse resources in our country, which is nonetheless rich in its spirit, people and history.”

The general director of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Dr Minwer Al Mheid, said that four years after the launch of World Interfaith Harmony Week, it has become a reality where partners, from different religious beliefs and intellectual, cultural and political affiliations are attracted by its message of peace, harmony and goodwill.

For his part, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem said that each year, “commitment to the goals and ideals of this week has increased around the world and has contributed to the transformation of the life of local communities, especially communities under pressure.”

Bishop Munib A.Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of the Lutheran World Federation, started his remarks with conveying greetings from the people of Jerusalem to His Majesty and their prayers for peace and justice, expressing their appreciation and gratitude for the Hashemite custodianship of the holy shrines and for everything the Monarch does for Jerusalem.

Speaking on behalf of the winners, Father Sebastiano D’Ambra said: “We are honoured to be here for this event not only to receive, but also to express our gratitude to Your Majesty and those who are helping you in the promotion of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.”
Member of the award jury Father Nabil Haddad said that in its second edition, the award is characterised by holding the name of King Abdullah, who took the initiative and presented it to the world.

The ceremony was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi, King’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy, Royal Court Chief Fayez Tarawneh, His Majesty’s Office Director Imad Fakhoury, Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Abdul Karim Khasawneh, senior officials and guests.