An 83-year-old African Muslim cleric who protected 262 Christians from attacks has been honored for his bravery by the United States government.
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, along with four other religious leaders from Sudan, Iraq, Brazil and Cyprus, are the recipients of the 2019 the International Religious Freedom Award, which is awarded to advocates of religious freedom.
Abdullahi was recognized for his bravery in providing shelter to hundreds of Christians fleeing attacks from Muslim herdsmen who had launched coordinated attacks on Christian farmers in 10 villages in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018.
The cleric refused to surrender the Christians faithful’s when their attackers asked about their whereabouts, International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback said at the awards ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.
"The imam gave refuge to his Christian neighbors, sheltering 262 Christians in his mosque and his home.... then stood outside the doors confronting the Muslim attackers, pleading with them to spare the lives of the Christians inside, even offering to exchange his own life for theirs," Brownback said.
"His actions bear witness to true courage, true selflessness, and true brotherly love," he said.
More than 80 people were killed in the attacks by suspected Fulani herders who also set fire on many homes in the villages.