Portuguese President visits Jamat at Ismaili Centre, expresses nation’s gratitude

His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, visited the Ismaili Centre, Lisbon on 29 April 2017, where he received a warm welcome from hundreds of members of the Portuguese Jamat.
Ismaili Girl and Boy Scouts lined a red carpet at the entrance of the Ismaili Centre, where President Marcelo was greeted upon his arrival by Rahim Firozali, President of the Ismaili Council for Portugal, Nazim Ahmad, Diplomatic Representative of the Ismaili Imamat to the Portuguese Republic, and senior officials of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat.
The President toured the Ismaili Centre, meeting and speaking with Ismailis of all ages, and pausing for photographs with them. The tour included visits to the chahar-bagh and fruit gardens, the Jamatkhana prayer hall and the Council Chamber, where he spent a moment signing the Ismaili Centre’s visitor’s book.
Looking in on classrooms where religious education is taught, President Marcelo delighted in the company of some of the youngest members of the Jamat, who were eager to tell him about what they learn each week. Afterwards, he received a standing ovation from hundreds of Jamati members who had gathered in the Centre’s social hall.
The President brought a profound message of solidarity and gratitude for the Jamat.
“We are brothers of the same path,” he said. “I am here to thank you — for this path we travel along, together.”
“Thank you for your strength, your unity, the ability to project into the future, the education, the upbringing of these girls, these boys, these young people, for the same principles, the same love for humanity, for others, the same openness, the same tolerance, the same acceptance of difference,” said the President.
“But also, for the same love for Portugal,” he said. “This touches my heart so deeply, and that is why I consider myself your brother, and feel you as my brothers and my sisters.”
Ismaili Council President Rahim Firozali expressed the Jamat’s deep appreciation for President Marcelo’s presence at the Ismaili Centre, which marked his first visit as the country’s head of state. He also expressed the Ismaili community’s gratitude for the Portuguese President’s long friendship with the community, which stretches back several decades all the way to Mozambique.
The Ismaili Council President recalled that in the late 1960s, a 19-year-old President Marcelo had visited the Maputo Jamatkhana, where his father, Baltazar Rebelo de Sousa, then Governor-General of Mozambique, had participated in an event and was received by the Jamati leaders of the day.
The mood at the Ismaili Centre was decisively festive, and the President was flocked by many who wished to greet him, take a selfie with him, and to share a word. But it was the President’s own words of generous gratitude that resonated most strongly.
“With you, Portugal has become richer, more open, more tolerant, more understanding, more plural, more universal,” President Marcelo told the Ismaili gathering. “Thank you. Thank you, in the name of Portugal.”