UN Expert Presents Albert Schweitzer Award to Religious Freedom Campaigner

News July 2002


L to R: Prof. Abdelfattah Amor, Mrs C. Rossi, Dr. Gianfranco Rossi

Budapest, Hungary... [IRLA News] Longtime religious freedom campaigner Dr. Gianfranco Rossi received major recognition for his "outstanding achievements" as he was presented with the Albert Schweitzer award by United Nation's special rapporteur Prof. Abdelfattah Amor.

The ceremony, held during the world congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) in Budapest, marked another highlight in what Prof Amor called "Dr. Rossi's long and distinguished service dedicated to the cause of religious liberty."

Rossi, stressed in his acceptance speech three "leading principles which have guided me in my activities for religious freedom."

He spoke bluntly about the principle of equality, saying that "no individuals or groups can claim the right to establish or to maintain a political regime which does not respect the rights and freedoms of all human beings."

Rossi also argued for the principle of difference, saying that today's pluralistic society "has to respect not only the similarities but also the differences between human beings. Differences between human beings must not simply be tolerated; they must be admitted, encouraged, cultivated with a full awareness of the inestimable riches which they bring."

Rossi concluded with an appeal to all religions "to purify themselves of every form of intolerance and extremism," noting that "it is impossible to build a pluralistic society without respect and cooperation."

Also attending the congress, Dr. Jonathan Gallagher, IRLA deputy secretary general, spoke of his delight at the award.

"Dr. Rossi is so well known for his major contributions to religious liberty that he truly is an institution. I join with the many others in recognizing his positive impact for freedom of conscience and belief, and likewise consider this award to be very well-deserved."

The Albert Schweitzer award is a special tribute given by the IARF, a non-governmental organization working with groups from different beliefs and communities suffering from religious persecution or discrimination. The IARF (www.iarf.net) promotes freedom from oppressive interference or discrimination by the state, government or society's institutions.