Four religious leaders, including a rabbi and an imam, have been honoured for their efforts to bring Swiss religious communities closer together.
Awarded for the first time, the prizeexternal link is from the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communitiesexternal link and the Platform of Liberal Jews in Switzerlandexternal link. It goes to people who make a significant contribution to social cohesion and religious peace in Switzerland.
Two pairs of leaders were recognized with CHF10,000 ($10,000) in prize money: Imam Muris Begovic and Rabbi Noam Hertig from Zurich, and Protestant deacon Maurice Gardiol and Jewish prayer leader Eric Ackermann from Geneva.
Among the speakers at the award ceremony in Bern on Tuesday evening was Swiss President and Home Affairs Minister Alain Berset.
Begovic and Hertig support the project Respectexternal link, which facilitates cultural exchanges between the two communities. By hosting various workshops, the project encourages an active dialogue with the aim of dismantling mutual prejudices. They also served as spiritual representatives of the first official joint dialogue event held between the Swiss Jewish and Muslim umbrella organisations.
Gardiol and Ackermann have developed an interreligious platform in Geneva and also fostered dialogue between Jewish students and their non-Jewish peers through classroom visits. In addition, the two men have been active at the Geneva School of Social Work, where they teach a course on the role religion and spirituality play in social work.