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The King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize for 2014

The King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week Prize award ceremony for 2014 took place on Sunday April 27,2014, at the Husseiniya palace.

His Majesty King Abdullah II presented the awards to the four winners.

First prize was awarded to the UN Interfaith Harmony Partners in the Philippines.

Second prize went to Saeed Khan Falahi for his work in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Third prize was shared between the Gamal Farghaly Sultan Secondary School in Assiut, Egypt, and Faiths Together from Uganda.

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

Several members of the judging committee gave speeches during the ceremony.

The General Director of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Dr Minwer Al Mheid, said that since it launch four years ago, the World Interfaith Harmony Week, has joined people in their common interest of realising noble humanitarian principles, consolidating harmony between all people, making world peace and promoting mutual respect among the followers of the different religious beliefs. He further stated, “we hope that in the coming few years to double the number of participants and increase the events and reach our desired outcome, God willing, which is to spread harmony amongst all of mankind by removing hostility, hatred and resentment”.

His eminence, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, chief adviser at the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute said in his remarks: “We start this meeting, which pleases God and pleases people with, peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you. As-Salam is the word that represents peace and is also one of God’s names and a name for the heavens, too. It stands for harmony, security and faith. The interfaith week you have proposed, Your Majesty, is a reflection and implementation of the meaning of this blessed word.”

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”. He added, “This annual prize-giving ceremony not only awards those who have done outstanding work in this arena, it also highlights the many ventures around the world — a growing number each year — which seek to promote those values and virtues that are vital to the common human future that we must build together.”

Bishop Munib A.Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of the Lutheran World Federation said, “In a time of globalised extremism, where the mass media are giving negative portrayals of religion and especially which is quite often informed by Islamophobia, we are pleased to find that there is a yeast fermenting in many societies, a yeast that is quietly transforming religious extremism into religious moderation.”. Younan described the prize winners as “…champions who will change our world for the better. These champions are essential to our social progress when we find ourselves in times of separation and prejudice against the other”.

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.” The interfaith activist added that the winners of the award are striving equally hard to promote peace in their respective countries, and it is a great encouragement to meet them, exchange ideas and experiences, and to participate in this global solidarity of love of God and love of the neighbour.

HRH Princess Areej Ghazi, the Chair of the judging committee of the award, said during her speech: “I am honoured, on behalf of myself and my fellow esteemed award panel members, to congratulate the efforts made by the participants in this noble project, which we consider a call for a new Fadoul Alliance [between tribes before Islam].” She added: “The Messenger of Allah, PBUH, commended Al Fadoul Alliance in the pre-Islamic era, saying that if he was invited after Islam to join it, he would do that.” She also addes: “This award, God willing, which marks the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week will contribute to the easing of religious tensions around the world”.