New York, NY, September 27, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Council for World Jewry honored the president of Senegal in recognition of his leadership and commitment to promoting interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance.
His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, was presented with the International Friendship Award on September 22 during his visit to New York City in conjunction with the opening of the U.N. General Assembly.
"I'm very honored to receive this award for interfaith dialogue," President Wade said in accepting the award. "I believe in this dialogue because I come from a country where 95 percent of our people are Muslim and 5 percent are Christians. We have always lived together in peace and perfect harmony."
The award was presented by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, and Jack Rosen, ACWJ President, at a luncheon attended by a number of high-ranking diplomats and other dignitaries hosted at ADL National Headquarters in Manhattan.
"He's a man who has accomplished a great deal and the kind of person our community needs to know much better," Mr. Rosen said of President Wade. "He is a man who has demonstrated true outstanding leadership. He is a champion of tolerance, of common-sense wisdom, a great leader of a proud Muslim nation who has played a key role in reaching out to people of all walks of life." Mr. Rosen noted that President Wade had worked with Jewish organizations to promote interfaith dialogue, and has been working behind the scenes to urge the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to free the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Mr. Foxman praised the Senegalese leader, a Muslim, for a landmark 2006 speech when Senegal held the presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, where Mr. Wade spoke out strongly against Holocaust denial and for universal Holocaust education.
"We can never forget your words," said Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor. "You made clear then, and in your presence here with us today, that there is room for dialogue among Muslims and Jews, that we can respect one another, that we should not ignore the long and important history of coexistence between our two people down through the centuries, and that we can learn something from our shared histories and rekindle again a positive relationship in the 21st Century. … For this, and for your leadership, we cannot thank you enough."
Mr. Wade expressed a dream of bringing together leaders of the world's three major faiths for a world conference to promote peace and interfaith dialogue.
In addition to the ADL-ACWJ award, the Senegalese President was presented with a gift of a traditional Jewish paper cut artwork, etched in six languages with the Biblical phrase, "Thus said the Lord, Blessed be He, to Israel: My beloved children, what do I ask of you? Only that you love and respect one another."