Lisbon, 21 July 2017 — Portugal lauded Mawlana Hazar Imam yesterday, as the Portuguese Republic and the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa each bestowed honours and tributes upon him.
His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal decorated Mawlana Hazar Imam with the Grã-Cruz da Ordem da Liberdade — or Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty — in recognition of his service to uplifting lives around the world. The evening ceremony took place at Palácio de Belém, the official residence of the President of the Republic.
Earlier in the day, the President had co-chaired another ceremony, in which Mawlana Hazar Imam received an honorary doctorate from the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. The leaders of the university extolled the work of the Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network over the past six decades.
“Although separated by 1 400 years of history and geography, our city and the Imamat have for centuries shared very deep values of tolerance, respect for individuality, intercultural dialogue and solidarity among humans,” said Professor Daniel Traça, Dean of the NOVA School of Business. “I trust, Your Highness , that you will find in our University and in the peoples of our great city and our great country true partners in your quest to make a difference around the world.”
Partnership and the opportunity to work together in making a meaningful difference in the world were prominent themes in the Dean’s remarks, as NOVA welcomed the establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Lisbon. The promotion of global dialogue, the embrace of human diversity and cooperation among peoples have long been part of the Portuguese spirit and the work of the Imamat.
“His Highness carries the historical commitment and mandate of the Imamat. Nova continues a tradition of more than 500 years in which our city has been a centre stage for the mixing of the cultures and the races of the world. That is why I believe that the Imamat will find in Lisbon a uniquely welcoming and safe place to build their home,” said Professor Traça.
The warm welcome was echoed by its Rector, Professor António Rendas, who presented Mawlana Hazar Imam with the Doctorate (Honoris Causa) for Hazar Imam’s longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for some of the world’s vulnerable populations as well as for his efforts to promote respect for tolerance and pluralism.
“Your Highness, I sincerely hope that you feel at home in Portugal and that you feel that Portugal is also part of your home.” The Rector invited Hazar Imam “to consider Lisbon and particularly NOVA University as a partner in making the world better with more knowledge, more culture, more social development and, above all, peace for men and women of goodwill.”
The visit is Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first official public event since the commencement of his Diamond Jubilee on Imamat Day, 11 July 2017, which marked the 60th anniversary of his Imamat. In June 2015, the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat signed a landmark agreement for the establishment of its formal Seat in Portugal. The agreement furthers cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat that will benefit the world at large.
Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed his deep appreciation to the university, to Portugal and its leaders, and particularly to the President of the Republic.
“I have always felt at home in Portugal,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam, “and now ever more so since the signing in 2015 of an historic agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and Portuguese Republic to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in this country – an important milestone in the 1 400-year history of the Ismaili Imamat.”
“Our commitment to Portugal reflects our deep respect for this country and our deep affection for its people,” said Hazar Imam.