World Leaders, Cultural Icons and NGOs Gather to Honor Heroes of the Global Campaign Against Violent Extremism

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A Tribute Ceremony to honor ten individuals and groups for their
extraordinary contributions to the global campaign against violent
extremism was held last night, September 22, at The Metropolitan Museum
of Art.

The event, emceed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and co-hosted by a group of
seven women leaders, including Sara Bloomfield, Director of the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum; Irina Bokova, Director General of The United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
Ambassador Esther Coopersmith, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador; Meera Ghandi,
Founder and CEO, The Giving Back Foundation; Francine LeFrak of the
Harvard Women’s Leadership Board; Deborah Lehr, Chairman and Co-founder
of The Antiquities Coalition, and Catherine Reynolds, Founder and CEO of
the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.

The event included a posthumous tribute to Elie Wiesel by Ambassador
Ronald Lauder in the presence of Marion Wiesel. Other speakers and
dignitaries present included President Plevneliev of Bulgaria; President
Nishani of Albania; Daniel H. Weiss, President of The Metropolitan
Museum of Art and his predecessor, Emily Rafferty, President Emerita of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Archbishop of New York Timothy
Dolan; and jazz legend Herbie Hancock.

The important contribution of religious leaders to peace and
intercultural harmony was recognized in a tribute to three outstanding
leaders: Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Founder and President of the Appeal of
Conscience Foundation; Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of
the Holy See (represented by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent
Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations); and Dr. Ali Goma’a,
Grand Mufti Emeritus of Egypt, whose special envoy Dr. Waleed El-Ansary
addressed the gathering on his behalf.

The Heroes whose contribution to the global campaign to prevent and
overcome violent extremism was celebrated at this event were:

Abdihafid Yussef Abdi (Kenya), for his courageous and innovative work as
a co-founder of Teachers Against Violent Extremism, a network of
educators fighting radicalization in Kenya.

Nicholas Kristof (USA), New York Times columnist, for his steady focus
on the root causes and cultural and political ramifications of violent

Turki Al-Dakhil (Saudi Arabia), Director General of Al-Arabiya TV, for
his outspoken advocacy of tolerance, freedom of the press, the rights of
minorities and women in the Gulf region.

A team of students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (USA), who
won the Peer-to-Peer Challenging Extremism Initiative award organized by
the State Department, for their innovative approach to countering hate
speech on the internet.

Nadia Murad (Iraq), a Yazidi woman who survived the massacre of her
family and sexual enslavement by ISIS, for her valorous exposure of
atrocities committed by terrorists against her people.

Hafsat Mohammed (Nigeria), a former radio journalist turned civil
society activist, for her resilient campaign against religious
intolerance in Nigerian schools and for leading a grass root multi-faith
effort to denounce Boko Haram.

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld (France and Germany), for their lifetime
dedication to expose and bring to justice Nazi war criminals, and their
tireless efforts to use the lessons of history to denounce racism and

Emanuel Jal (South Sudan), musician, actor, former child soldier, and
political activist, for his engagement to bring peace and reconciliation
to his people through music and art.

Li Yongjun (China), for his innovative leadership in preserving and
promoting intangible cultural heritage in China and around the world.

This event was made possible in part through the generous support of the
French telecom company Orange and the consumer products company Tylt.

For photos of the event, please see


Andy Beck, 212 508 9626