WASHINGTON, June 26: Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, has been presented with the Mahatma Gandhi Award for Advancing Pluralism by the Hindu American Foundation for his leadership role in protecting the rights of minority Hindu community in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Malaysia.
The foundation said that as head of the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department, the former Governor of Kansas has heralded a new era for the United States in elevating the voices of those who have long gone unheard.
“Since taking office, his keen attention and efforts to address the plight of vulnerable Hindu minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan…has helped further the cause of human rights and freedom of belief worldwide,” it said.
The award was presented to Brownback at an event at the US capitol on Monday.
In his acceptance speech, Brownback said the world is seeing more interactions between religious communities.
“The role of the government is to protect the right to everyone’s religious freedom. You want to be Hindu, great. You want to be a Christian, a Muslim, great. As long as you’re peaceful about it we will protect your right. This should be the standard around the world,” he said.
Congressman Brad Sherman was given the Friend of the Community award for his efforts to tackle terrorism in South Asia, including pushing for getting Jaish-e-Mohammad founder Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.
Praising the US-India strategic relationship, Sherman said that it is based on shared democratic principles. The Congressman said that he “looks forward to the day when [India] is classified as a major non-NATO ally.”
More than 300 people attended the Hindu American Foundation’s 16th annual Capitol Hill Reception held at the prestigious Ray Burn building. It was co-hosted by HAF and the Indian American Kashmir Forum. (PTI)