United Religions Initiative-Africa presented its 2017 Africa Interfaith Harmony Award to Fr. James Channan OP (Dominican Priest in Lahore) and Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad (Grad Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore) who are active members of URI and interfaith activists from Pakistan.
The award ceremony took place on September 15, 2017 in Sarajevo- Bosnia Herzegovina on the occasion of the URI Global Leaders Gathering held in Sarajevo. The award was presented by the URI-Africa
team in the presence of Global Trustees, Global Support and regional Staff, President, Chairperson of Global Council and Executive Director of URI.
On the occasion of handing over the award, Amb. Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI-Africa and Representative of URI to African Union and United Nations in Africa and Geneva said “The award is bestowed upon Fr. James Channan OP & Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad in recognition of their ongoing great contribution in promoting interfaith harmony and peaceful co-existence among followers of different religions in Pakistan and other part of the world and for setting a good example as religious leaders from different faith traditions working together in addressing counter violent extremism and enhancing inter-religious constructive dialogue and cooperation for the common good of all based on the teaching of the Golden Rule which says Treat others the way you want to be treated”.
After receiving the award Fr. James Channan said “On behalf of Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad and myself I want to thank very much URI-Africa and its leadership for the award presented to us. To promote peace, build trust and mutual respect among followers of different religions the teaching of the Golden Rule which says Treat others the way you want to be treated is very much important. I want to take this opportunity to thank URI-Africa and Amb. Mussie Hailu for promoting Golden Rule in Africa and the rest of the world. I also want to thank the initiative of URI-Africa for launching Africa Interfaith Harmony Award to enhance more the importance of interfaith dialogue for peaceful co-existence as it will present a special opportunity to recognize the existing interfaith contributions to peace, and to encourage others to join in the great work of principled multi-religious cooperation for the common good”.
It is to be recalled that URI-Africa launched in 2016 Africa Interfaith Harmony Award on the occasion of the celebration of the United Nations World Interfaith harmony Week in February 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya and the inaugural award was presented to:
1) AFRICAN COUNCIL OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS (ACRL) in recognition of the organization work since its establishment in promoting inter-faith relations and harmony through constructive dialogue, shared methodologies and programs, and facilitating cooperation among African inter-religious councils
2) BAHI SAHIB DR. MOHINDER SINGH (Sikh spiritual leaders) in recognition of his tireless effort and dedicated work over forty years in promoting a culture of peace, interfaith harmony, forgiveness and coexistence at local, regional and international level.
The award is also in acknowledgment of his selfless service to humanity and visionary leadership in propagating serving society through spiritual inspiration, infrastructure creation, heritage conservation, interfaith engagement and promoting values-led education.