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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

‘Bridge builders’ win coveted prize

Norway’s Freedom of Expression Foundation (Fritt Ord) has awarded its highest distinction to Bushra Ishaq and Abid Q Raja, for their efforts to “build bridges” in the country’s emerging multi-cultural society. The Fritt Ord Prize is highly regarded in Norway, and awarded annually.

Bushra Ishaq (left) and Abid Q Raja PHOTO: Fritt Ord

The board of Fritt Ord cited Ishaq’s “firm grounding in the Muslim faith and community,” and claimed she had “helped further a general understanding of what it means to live in today’s multi-cultural society.”

The board said that Raja, who has organized numerous public debates on integration, “has created arenas for dialogue meetings on topics of importance for the public debate.” Fritt Ord’s board said that Raja “has been an energetic social commentator at a time of conflict.”

Both have taken active roles as newspaper columnists, public speakers and civic leaders in trying to promote integration and tolerance. Ishaq is currently a medical student and researcher at the University of Oslo, has been active in the Global Harmony Association, serves on the Women’s Panel for the state ministry in charge of family and children’s issues and is a former president of the Muslim Students Union.

Raja, a lawyer, currently works as an Immigration Appeals Board leader. He recently founded the minority policy think tank Minotenk, has emerged as an active politician for the small Liberal Party (Venstre) and has been a spokesman for the World Islamic Mission.

Fritt Ord is a public-private foundation that aspires to promote freedom of expression and public debate.

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