Mohammed Al-Issa Receives Bridge Builder Award

Muhammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Vatican on Sept. 20, 2017. (AP)
Muhammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Vatican on Sept. 20, 2017. (AP)
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Mohammed Al-Issa Receives Bridge Builder Award

Muhammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Vatican on Sept. 20, 2017. (AP)
Muhammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Vatican on Sept. 20, 2017. (AP)

Dr. Mohammed Bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL) and chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association, has received the Norwegian Bridge Builder Award.

The Oslo-based award committee said Al-Issa has made exceptional efforts to build bridges between people with different religious and cultural backgrounds, and described him as "a leading global force for peace and cooperation between nations and religions, and combating extremist ideologies."

The award distribution ceremony was held at Oslo's Opera Hall, in the presence of a large number of international figures, including religious leaders, scholars, heads of major international organizations, and a wide spectrum of Norwegian political, religious and community leaders including former Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik.

Al-Issa received a cable of congratulations from a number of European officials, saying that he is a clear and distinct voice for peace and cooperation between nations and religions. "This accolade is a recognition and encouragement to continue his great efforts in promoting tolerance, respect and love," they added.

In his speech after receiving the award, Al-Issa said that "building bridges … are the gateway to understanding and cooperation, leading to the peace of our world and the harmony of our societies around the world.”

On conflicts resulting from religious, cultural, political and other divides, Al-Issa said: "Distancing ourselves from each other builds walls of fear, suspicion and misunderstanding. This will raise anxiety, and hatred, and then lead to conflicts, and this has happened around the world unfortunately."

Al-Issa called upon the followers of religions and civilizations to join forces, discarding accusations and combating hate speech and acts of violence and terrorism.

"Nothing is better than recognizing that the difference among humans is a natural aspect of our life, and that hatred and exclusion based on cultural, religious, or political differences cannot be justified."

"Sincere love in its full sense is the greatest peacemaker, and teaching it is the responsibility of the family and education, from childhood to the early stages of youth. The educational process needs to focus on teaching shared values in an interactive way. The world learned how to make weapons of mass destruction but did not learn values," he concluded.

In past editions, the Bridge Builder Award was introduced to many prominent international figures including former US President Barack Obama, King of Norway, and the current head of the World Health Organization. The annual ceremony is attended by the royal family in Norway, prime minister, and a number of ministers and members of parliament.



UN Demands Action on Extreme Heat as World Registers Warmest Day

 A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
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UN Demands Action on Extreme Heat as World Registers Warmest Day

 A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)
A child cools off nearby sprinklers at Retiro Park during the second day of the heatwave, in Madrid, Spain July 25, 2024. (Reuters)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for countries to address the urgency of the extreme heat epidemic, fueled by climate change - days after the world registered its hottest day on record.

"Extreme heat is the new abnormal," Guterres said. "The world must rise to the challenge of rising temperatures," he said.

Climate change is making heatwaves more frequent, more intense and longer lasting across the world.

Already this year, scorching conditions have killed 1,300 hajj pilgrims, closed schools for some 80 million children in Africa and Asia, and led to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths in the Sahel.

Every month since June 2023 has now ranked as the planet's warmest since records began in 1940, compared with the corresponding month in previous years, according the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service.

The UN called on governments to not only tamp down fossil fuel emissions - the driver of climate change - but to bolster protections for the most vulnerable, including the elderly, pregnant women and children, and step up safeguards for workers.

Over 70 percent of the global workforce - 2.4 billion people - are now at high risk of extreme heat, according to a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) published Thursday.

In Africa, nearly 93 percent of the workforce is exposed to excessive heat, and 84 percent of the Arab States' workforce, the ILO report found.

Excessive heat has been blamed for causing almost 23 million workplace injuries worldwide, and some 19,000 deaths annually.

"We need measures to protect workers, grounded in human rights," Guterres said.

He also called for governments to "heatproof" their economies, critical sectors such as healthcare, and the built environment.

Cities are warming at twice the worldwide average rate due to rapid urbanization and the urban heat island effect.

By 2050, some researchers estimate a 700 percent global increase in the number of urban poor living in extreme heat conditions.

This is the first time the UN has put out a global call for action on extreme heat.

"We need a policy signal and this is it," said Kathy Baughman Mcleod, CEO of Climate Resilience for All, a nonprofit focused on extreme heat.

"It's recognition of how big it is and how urgent it is. It's also recognition that everybody doesn't feel in the same way and pay the same price for it."