Lisbon, Portugal –
In an historic address to Portugal’s Members of
Parliament that received a standing ovation, His Highness the
Aga Khan praised Portugal as a leader on the global stage, one
that is widely acknowledged as a country of opportunity, and
thanked Portugal for a “progressive partnership” with the
The speech took
place in the Senate Chamber at the invitation of His Excellency
Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, the President of the Assembly of the
Republic, with whom His Highness also held bilateral meetings.
coincided with global celebrations taking place in Lisbon
commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of the Aga Khan, marking 60
years of his leadership as the 49thhereditary Imam (spiritual
leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
Reinforces Ongoing Partnership
The address marked
yet another significant milestone in an increasingly close
relation-ship between the Ismaili Imamat (office of the Imam)
and the Portuguese Republic.
Building on a series
of earlier accords and at the invitation of the Republic of
Portugal, the Ismaili Imamat established a Seat in Portugal in
2015 pursuant to a landmark agreement.
As a reflection of
the mutual esteem and trust that has traditionally characterised
their relationship, that agreement and the establishment of a
Seat in Portugal was unanimously endorsed by the Parliament of
The Ismaili Imamat
and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) share a long history
with the Government of Portugal that has included partnerships
to help improve the quality of life for people within Lusophone
communities and around the world.
Portugal is also
home to a sizeable Ismaili population within Europe, and the Aga
Khan Foundation, an agency of the AKDN, which has been operating
in the country for almost four decades in the areas of early
childhood development, edu-cation, civil society, economic
inclusion and care for the elderly.
In his welcoming
remarks, the President of the Assembly of Portuguese Parliament
spoke of the Aga Khan’s and the AKDN’s “notable” actions in
addressing the “many challenges which the modern world faces.”
He added that their
“commitment to education, with emphasis on children’s education,
the programmes to fight poverty and the provision of health
services, development programmes for rural communities, the
supportive spirit and social commitment are hallmarks” of their
work in improving the condition and quality of life of
communities in need around the world.
Mayor of Lisbon,
Fernando Medina, echoed these sentiments in his speech saying,
“His Highness the Aga Khan exercises his mandate with a very
clear purpose to support humanity.
“This is the
humanist spirit of intercommunal dialogue which has created such
honour for the community which he has led for so many years,
fifteen million faithful throughout the world.
“And action which,
through the Aga Khan Development Network, covers critical areas
for human development such as health, education, culture, rural
development and the promotion of entrepreneurialism.
“This changes human
lives and it changes the world for the better.”
congratulatory statements, the Aga Khan, in his address to
Parliament, expressed gratitude to the Republic of Portugal, and
spoke of Portugal as a significant partner with the Ismaili
Imamat, one that shares a commitment to pluralism and embracing
Portugal as a country of opportunity, “a country that seeks to
honour both its past achievements and its future opportunities,
to embrace both the gift of social stability and the promise of
Parliament,” he added, “is to be commended for its role in that
His Highness also
noted that the history of Ismaili engagement with Portugal
stretches back many years, beginning when Ismailis settled in
Portuguese Territories in India in the 17th century.
He noted the warm
welcome that Portugal offered almost half a century ago to
Ismailis fleeing the Mozambiquan civil war. In reflecting upon
the past, His Highness also looked forward and considered the
challenges that lie ahead, remarking “We know that the days
ahead will be demanding ones, a time of profound global change.”
Nonetheless, the Aga
Khan remained encouraged for the future and acknowledged the
role that Portugal will play in addressing the demands of
In concluding his
address, His Highness emphasised the importance of Portugal in
this regard, stating that, “…the Ismaili Imamat will draw
strength from our continuing sense of partnership with the
people and the Government of Portugal.”
He ended, “So let
us, then, go forward together, bound by our shared past,
committed to our shared values, and inspired by our shared hopes
for a constructive, purposeful future.”
Members of His
Highness’ family who joined him for the address included his
brother Prince Amyn, daughter Princess Zahra and her children
Sara and Iliyan, son Prince Rahim with his wife Princess Salwa,
and sons Prince Hussain and Prince Aly Muhammad.
from Aga Khan Museum Focused on Leadership
address in the Senate Chamber, His Highness and His Excellency,
officially inaugurated a special exhibit of objects from the
Toronto-based Aga Khan Museum entitled Ideals of Leadership:
Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collections
The stories depicted
in the images and conveyed through the objects relate to some of
the most important and timeless ideals of leadership that rulers
aspired to through the ages.
curated exhibition is particularly relevant on this occasion, as
the Ismaili Imamat, the AKDN and the Republic of Portugal
further acknowledge and strengthen a relationship that has grown
deeper over the years.