For Immediate Release, October 11, 2010
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 212-375-0661
Canon Andrew White Wins 11th Annual Civil Courage Prize
Leading figure in the effort for peace in Iraq and throughout the Middle East to be honored at October 18 ceremony in New York City
New York, NY — The Reverend Canon Andrew White, an envoy for peace in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, will receive the 2010 Civil Courage Prize in New York on October 18. The Prize of $50,000 honors individuals who have demonstrated steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk.
The Civil Courage Prize has been awarded annually since 2000 by The Train Foundation (formerly known as the Northcote Parkinson Fund). Jon Meacham, the noted journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning author, will deliver the keynote address.
Canon White, also known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," is rector of St. George's Church Baghdad, an ecumenical congregation and the last Anglican church in Iraq. He has led the church in the midst of war, terror and fierce religious sectarianism.
He has been in Iraq since 1998 and has worked to reconcile Iraq's disparate religious factions by developing relationships with many of the most senior religious leaders within the Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, Christian and other minority communities.
Working together with the Coalition Provisional Authority, Canon White helped facilitate the signing of the Baghdad Peace Accord in February 2004. The ensuing religious dialogue was seen as instrumental in the development of the reconstruction process in Iraq.
Canon White is exposed to considerable danger and has suffered frequent death threats from sectarian militia, as well as calls for his capture “dead or alive.” He has been beaten, held at gunpoint, had his quarters ransacked and bombed several times. He and his staff are constantly under threat; eleven have been murdered or kidnapped.
In 2005 Canon White founded the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, of which he is President and CEO. In addition to his bridge-building work, Canon White, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, attends to the medical needs of the people of Baghdad, operating medical and dental clinics which provide services to all who need them, regardless of religious affiliation. He has also worked as a mediator in over a hundred cases of kidnapping, securing a successful release in many of those cases.
Canon White was the Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Envoy to the Middle East and a strategic player in bringing about the signing of the Alexandria Declaration, which established a dialogue among many of the key religious leaders in the Middle East in an effort to further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He was one of the main negotiators during the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.
Commenting on receiving the Civil Courage Prize, Canon White said:
"It is more than an honor to be recognized in such a great way by the Train Foundation. The Civil Courage Prize is acknowledged internationally as being the foremost such prize in the world. One does not do this kind of work to be recognized but, when in the midst of such violence and tragedy you are acknowledged, it spurs you on to keep going. I love my work and the people I work with. My colleagues and I strive to help to bring healing to a broken nation. I still have a very long way to go, but I will not give up."
Commenting on Canon White's award, John Train, founder of the Prize, said:
"The Civil Courage Prize exists to acclaim heroes of conscience like Canon Andrew White. Brave people all around the world resist intimidation and risk their lives to promote freedom. Not soldiers or politicians, they are exemplary citizens with the courage to do extraordinary things. A healthy society relies on civil courage, and we hope that by recognizing it in people like Canon White, we can encourage others to follow in his footsteps and peacefully defend justice."
The 2010 Civil Courage Prize Award Ceremony will be held at the Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th St. in New York City, on October 18 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. To attend the event as a member of the media, please contact Barbara Becker at 212-375-0661.
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