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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK: Former Saudi Minister of Justice Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa was awarded the first ever Combat Anti-Semitism Award for his work in the interfaith community and his fight against anti-Semitism and religious intolerance.
The virtual ceremony on June 9 was co-hosted by the Combat Anti-Semitism movement and the American Sephardi Federation. Senior US diplomats, UN officials and leaders of the American Jewish community all hailed the interfaith work of Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL).
Al-Issa has been the MWL secretary-general since 2016 and has forged several alliances with Jewish, Christian and other religious committees across the world.
He recently led a high-level delegation to Auschwitz in January of this year and announced several historic initiatives to counter extremism, guarantee religious freedom and improve human welfare, spreading the virtues of inter-religious understanding. He has been described by the US Department of State and other major international agencies as one of the foremost proponents of moderate Islam in the world today.
US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr thanked Al-Issa for his “remarkable vision and his commitment to turning over a new chapter and building a new future for the sake of not only Jewish and Christian children, but for the sake of all the children of the world.”
Those sentiments were echoed by US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who called Al-Issa a “leader of the future.” Brownback said he would continue working with Al-Issa to “overcome the forces of hatred and evil.”
In his speech, Al-Issa spoke of the importance of Jewish, Muslim and other religious groups to work together to combat hatred in all its forms. He stressed that adherents of all faiths face a common enemy in the extremists who wish to drive their communities apart.
“Since taking over the Muslim World League, it has been my mission to fight the forces of hatred and violence,” Al-Issa said. “We have carefully implemented a holistic, multi-pronged approach that has included tolerance-building programs in education around the world, and counter-extremism monitoring and counteraction grounded in the true, moderate doctrine of Islam. And we have dramatically increased outreach to all of Allah’s children — Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. For our battle against intolerance and division is the same.”
Al-Issa said partnerships are more important than ever to defeat common enemies, from terrorism to global pandemics.
“Islam prophesizes peace between all peoples. Only through respect and tolerance for others can this be achieved. The alternative is ceaseless, violent conflict,” Al-Issa said. “Our faith is committed to tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and respect for the dignity of all mankind. We share a responsibility to confront all those who would promote division. Armed with the truth, we will fight the scourge of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and all hatred.”
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