Lisbon, Portugal, 20 July 2017 – His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan today received one of Portugal’s highest honours – the Grã-Cruz da Ordem da Liberdade, or Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty – in recognition of his service to uplifting lives around the world. Portugal’s President, His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa bestowed the Aga Khan with this honour during a ceremony held at Lisbon’s Palácio de Belém or National Palace of Belém.
The Aga Khan was in Lisbon at the invitation of the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa to receive an Honorary Doctorate (Honoris Causa) for his longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for some of the world’s vulnerable populations as well as for his efforts to promote respect for tolerance and pluralism. His Highness offered remarks as part of the ceremony that underscored the importance of education for the world’s continued economic and social development. He praised Portugal for embracing the principles of pluralism while calling on people everywhere to partner for the strengthening of civil society and global development.
This visit was the first official public event for the His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV since the launch of his Diamond Jubilee year, which marked 60 years as Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. He became the 49th hereditary Imam on 11th July, 1957 at the age of 20 years, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III.
His Highness the Aga Khan & Portugal
His Highness has received numerous honorary degrees and awards in recognition of his work, including in Portugal, the Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry the Great, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit and the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Christ. In 2006, the University of Évora conferred on him the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa; in 2009 he became a foreign member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences.
The institutions of the Ismaili Imamat have been engaged in Portugal since 1983, when the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) opened an office in Lisbon. For more than 30 years, it has worked on issues of relevance to Portugal and Europe, as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries. Its activities range from early childhood development to university education, from social inclusion of immigrants to the study of rapidly ageing populations.
In June 2015, the Portuguese Republic and the Ismaili Imamat signed a landmark agreement for the establishment of its formal Seat in Portugal. The agreement furthers cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat in the knowledge society, through developing world-class research initiatives in Portugal that will benefit the world at large. Following this agreement, in May 2016, the Portuguese Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education and the Ismaili Imamat signed an agreement that will strengthen research capacity and improve quality of life in Portugal and in Portuguese- speaking countries.
Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali
About the Order of Liberty
The Order of Liberty, or Freedom, is a Portuguese honorific civil order which aims to distinguish relevant services rendered in defense of the values of Civilization, in favor of the dignification of the Human Person and the cause of Freedom.