AMMAN — It was announced on Wednesday that His Majesty King Abdullah will receive the Lamp of Peace award in Italy next week for his efforts in promoting peace in the region and the world.
King Abdullah will visit the city of Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis (patron saint of Italy and founder of the Franciscan community), where he will be awarded the Lamp of Peace from the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.
Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, bureau chief for Islam at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at Vatican City, told The Jordan Times in an e-mail that King Abdullah is a credible political leader and a tireless promoter of peace and interreligious harmony.
“His Majesty is a person with compassion towards all who suffer; he loves peace and works for it with determination, respects all religions and their followers and is very attentive to the Christian community in the Middle East and in Jordan in particular, encouraging Christians to remain in the land of their fathers and grandfathers,” Akasheh said.
Explaining the symbolism behind the award being a lamp, Monsignor Akasheh said that “light is a significant symbol in all religions”.
“In Christianity… Jesus Christ declares himself as the light of the world, and for Islam, God is the light of heaven and earth,” he explained.
Akasheh added that if the King’s example were followed; the world, especially the Middle East, would be a better place to live in.
Italian Ambassador to Jordan Fabio Cassese told The Jordan Times that King Abdullah will be awarded for his commitment towards human rights, interreligious dialogue, welcoming refugees and his reforms in the education system and for upholding freedom of religion.
King Abdullah will receive the Catholic award less than a year after he received Templeton Prize in late 2018, which is granted to a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works, according to the award’s website.
Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan Bishop William Shomali said that the ongoing recognition and international appreciation of King Abdullah’s efforts in promoting peace and harmony reveals a worldwide need to expose the presence of strong people of peace whose numbers are decreasing.
“His Majesty the King is a man who sets the standard of humanity in a competitive and penetrated region,” said Hassan Barari, professor of international relations at the University of Jordan.
He added that the awards — the Templeton and the Lamp of Peace — would help change the region’s stereotypes and reverse Islamophobic narratives.
King Abdullah will receive the award in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was awarded the Lamp of Peace in 2018, and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to a statement sent by the Royal Court.
Since its launch in 1981, the award has been granted to a number of political and religious leaders, most notably among them Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, former Colombian president and Noble Prize Laureate Juan Manuel Santos, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, according to the award organisers.