The State Department commends cleric at an awards ceremony
The Trump administration has honored an 83-year-old Muslim cleric from Nigeria who saved hundreds of Christians during a terror attack in 2018.
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who saved the Christians after hiding them in his home and a mosque, was honored by The State Department in an awards ceremony on Wednesday for his actions on June 23, 2018.
The incident occurred when “ethnic Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, launched attacks on ten villages in Barkin Ladi, killing hundreds of Christians.”
According to The State Department:
“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”
“Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and his home next to the mosque.
“The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen, and he refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside, even offering to sacrifice his life for theirs.”
“Although the gunmen killed 84 people in Nghar village that day, Imam Abdullahi’s actions saved the lives of hundreds more.”
Sam Brownback, the International Religious Freedom Ambassador, said at the event:
The imam gave the Christians refuge during the attack, sheltering 62 Christians in his home and mosque.
He then confronted the Muslim attacker pleading with them to spare the lives of the Christians inside.
The cleric even offered his life for theirs.
“His actions bear witness to true courage, true selflessness, and true brotherly love,” Brownback added.
Privileged to present five extraordinary #religiousfreedom advocates with the @StateDept’s first-ever #IRFAwards today. Their heroic efforts to build bridges & protect vulnerable religious minorities, often at their own personal risk, are an inspiration to us all. pic.twitter.com/SxJI9XQZYT
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 18, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a tweet:
“Privileged to present five extraordinary #religiousfreedom advocates with the @StateDept’s first-ever #IRFAwards today. Their heroic efforts to build bridges & protect vulnerable religious minorities, often at their own personal risk, are an inspiration to us all.”
State Department also honored:
Mohamed Yosaif Abdalrahan of Sudan: Who worked tirelessly to protect the rights of Sudan’s religious minorities, both in his legal casework and through public advocacy.
Ivanir dos Santos of Brazil: Who worked to support interfaith dialogue, tackle discrimination, and create mechanisms for the protection of vulnerable groups.
William and Pascale Warda of Iraq: who devoted their lives to advancing religious freedom and other human rights causes in Iraq.
Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud of Cyprus: who fully committed herself to work with religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and religious communities on a broad range of problems, including religious freedom.
She is also one of the architects and facilitators of an unprecedented peacebuilding initiative in Cyprus known as the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden based in Nicosia, Cyprus.