In a celebration hosted by the Opera Hall in the Norwegian capital, Sheikh Dr. Al-Issa received the award, along with the World Council of Churches in Geneva and Rabbi Miguel Malker, in the midst of a large presence of international political, international and parliamentary leaders, heads of major international organizations, and a wide spectrum of Norwegian religious and community leaders In addition to the participation of the former Prime Minister of Norway, who moderated the dialogue in the award ceremony, Mr. Kjell Bondevik, the President of the Dialogue for Peace Foundation, Mr. Amer Sheikh, and the winner of the Bridge Building Award last year, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, and Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Mr. Jagan Chapagan.
“This is the first time that the Norwegian capital has witnessed a meeting of high-level representatives of Islam, Judaism and Christianity to highlight respect and tolerance among themselves, and to express a clear ambition for greater interfaith cooperation,” the committee said at the ceremony.
The award committee described Al-Issa as a leading global force in moderation, saying that he is a clear and distinct voice for peace and cooperation between nations and religions. “This accolade is a recognition and encouragement to continue his great efforts in promoting tolerance, respect and love.”
The MWL Secretary-General warned of the unfair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying: “It is a shame that only the rich can get the vaccine, while the poor have to face the pain of poverty, the pain of disease, the pain of cruelty of disregard and injustice. Just as the disease does not differentiate between anyone, treatment must not differentiate between anyone.”
On conflicts resulting from religious, cultural, political and other divides, Al-Issa said: “Distancing ourselves from each other builds walls of fear, suspicion and misunderstanding.”
Al-Issa called for dialogue that effectively addresses problems, not formal or courtesy dialogue. He also called upon the followers of religions and civilizations to join forces, discarding accusations and combating hate speech and acts of violence.
Past recipients of the Bridge Builder Award include former US President Barack Obama and the current head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.