Mawlana Hazar Imam delivered an historic address to the Portuguese Parliament today in the presence of government officials, members of Hazar Imam’s family, and leaders of the Jamat and the Aga Khan Development Network.

In his opening remarks, President of the Assembly of the Republic, His Excellency Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, said, “Your establishment here shows how we would like to represent ourselves as a bridge building country.”

Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina introduced Mawlana Hazar Imam to members of Portugal’s Assembly of the Republic, saying, “His Highness the Aga Khan exercises his mandate with a very clear purpose: to support humanity. This is the humanist spirit of intercommunal dialogue which has created such honour for the community he has led for so many years.”

In his address, Hazar Imam expressed gratitude to the Republic for their warm invitation to Portugal. He acknowledged the Jamat that has gathered in Lisbon, many for the first time, for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

“We signed an historic agreement in Lisbon in 2015 — an Agreement to establish here a new Seat of the Ismaili Imamat. This means that Lisbon, already a leading international crossroads city, will also now serve as a central connecting point for the global Ismaili community,” Hazar Imam said.

The Ismaili community’s long-standing relationship with Portugal dates back to the 17th century when Ismailis settled in Portuguese territories in India and then later in Mozambique. Many of those Ismailis received a warm welcome in Portugal when they fled Mozambique during its civil war almost a half century ago.  Since then, the “Ismaili ties to Portugal have multiplied,” remarked Hazar Imam, with the establishment of the Aga Khan Foundation, the Ismaili Centre Lisbon, various Protocols of Cooperation, the historic agreement to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal, and other collaborations.

In his address, Mawlana Hazar Imam also reiterated the need for fostering a strong cosmopolitan ethic and lauded Portugal for aligning its values with the ideals of civil society. “We can think today of Portugal as a country of opportunity, a country that seeks to honour both its past achievements and its future opportunities, to embrace both the gift of social stability and the promise of social progress.” 

Upon his arrival to the Portugal Parliament at Sāo Bento Palace this morning, Hazar Imam was received by a guard of honour, and invited into the Senate Chamber by the President of the Assembly of the Republic, His Excellency Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues. Members of Hazar Imam’s family were also present in the audience, including Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Princess Salwa, Prince Hussain, Prince Aly Muhammad, Miss Sara Boyden, and Master Iliyan Boyden.