Two African leaders were among those to receive the new International Religious Freedom Awards from the United States Department of State, at a ceremony hosted by department secretary Mike Pompeo, above, on Wednesday.
Nigerian imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who risked his own life during June 2018 ethnic clashes that targeted predominantly Christian communities, the 83-year-old Imam Abubakar Abdullahi was among four other nationals that received the first-ever International Religious Freedom Award of the United States Government.
He is the Imam of Nghar village who hid 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June last year when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State
“As Imam Abdullahi was finishing midday prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the town’s Christian community fleeing,” the U.S. state department said. “Instinctively, the imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and his home next to the mosque.” He then successfully negotiated with the Fulani attackers to save their lives.
Also receiving an award was Mohamed Yosaif Abdalrahan of Sudan, a human rights lawyer at the Sudanese Human Rights Initiative (SHRI), has “worked tirelessly to defend the rights of Sudan’s religious minorities, both in his legal casework and through public advocacy,” the department said.
He leads advocacy campaigns to protect minority religious communities and end discriminatory practices, while organizing human rights training sessions for journalism, women’s rights and Sudanese youth.
“A member of Sudan’s Muslim majority, Mohamed has become a trusted ally of minority communities and has helped them navigate the country’s complex judicial system, deploying his strong technical knowledge in international human rights law and Sudanese constitutional law, and his outstanding dedication to use the law as a force for good,” the department said.