His Highness the Aga Khan on July 20 received one of Portugal’s highest honours —the Gra-cruz da ordem de Liberdade, or Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty — in recognition of his contribution to uplifting lives around the world.
Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa bestowed the Aga Khan with this honour at a ceremony held at Lisbon’s Belem Palace.
The Aga Khan was in Lisbon at the invitation of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa to receive an honorary doctorate for his commitment to improving the quality of life for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations and for his efforts in promoting tolerance and pluralism.
This was the first official public event for the Aga Khan since the launch of his Diamond Jubilee (60 years) as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. He underscored the importance of education for economic and social development, and praised Portugal for embracing pluralism.
The Aga Khan called for the strengthening of civil society for global development.
The Dean of the Nova School of Business, Prof Daniel Traça, praised the Ismaili Imamat commitment to higher education.
António Rendas, the university’s rector, recognised the Imam’s efforts in establishing the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia — both institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network — which he termed “one of the most comprehensive contemporary development networks in the world.”
“As founder and chairman of the AKDN, the Aga Khan is truly the centre of a human chain of solidarity, that crosses continents, bringing progress and innovation to mankind regardless of gender, origin and religion,” he said.
The Aga Khan said: “I have always felt at home in Portugal, and now even more so since the signing in 2015 of an historic agreement between the Ismaili Imamat and the 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. It marks the culmination of our long and deep relationship here — one that will now deepen further.”