Nigerian Imam who rescued over 200 Christians wins US award for religious freedom
The Chief Imam of Nghar Village, Abdullahi Abubakar who protected over 200 villagers during attacks on Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau in June 2018 has emerged one of five International Religious Freedom Award winners, the US State Department announced on Tuesday.
The award is being given for the first time ever during the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on Wednesday.
According to the State Department, the Ministerial aims to reaffirm international commitments to promote religious freedom for all and focus on concrete outcomes that produce durable, positive change.
“A broad range of stakeholders will convene to discuss challenges, identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for freedom of religion or belief,” the Department noted.
Recall that the 83-year-old Imam last year made headlines for his act of bravery in the face of death. He single-handedly rescued 262 Berom Christians by hiding them in his mosque and house in June last year when over 400 hoodlums on motorcycles and armed with sophisticated weapons launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State.
They went from community to community on a killing spree and the gruesome attack left 84 people dead.
However, the swift action taken by the chief imam of the community who hid some Christians helped in reducing the number of causalities.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington awarded the Chief Imam with Ambassador’s Peacemaker Award for Heroism at an interfaith dialogue organised by the embassy in June in Abuja.
Symington urged the world to emulate Abubakar’s act of brotherliness which he described as a virtue of kindness to promote global peace.
The ambassador also advised mankind to love each other and let the idea of one family take the centre stage.
“Abubakar’s act of brotherliness raised hope of a cohesive society in the face of growing mistrust.
“Today, there is only one word that matters and that is perhaps, love. Or perhaps, one more word, family.
“With the lesson of this Imam, Chief Imam, this Village Head, this Deputy Imam, and all of those who brought you this story, is a lesson not just for Nigeria, but for all mankind – one family, one race, one love,” Symington stated at the occasion.
TNG reports that other IRF award winners include; Sudanese human rights activist Mohamed Yosaif Abdalrahan, Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud of Cyprus, Ivanir dos Santos of the Commission to Combat Religious Intolerance in Brazil, and William and Pascale Warda of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organisation in Iraq which the couple set up in 2013.