Aga Khan, and 45,000 followers, in Portugal for Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Prince Shah Karim Al-Husaini, better known as Aga Khan IV, arrives in Portugal today for an intense week of events celebrating the 60 years since he took over as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Imamat muslim community.
Aside from concerts, artistic interventions and conferences that have been planned, the 81-year-old multi-millionaire is due to meet political leaders – President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, prime minister António Costa, and parliamentary leader Ferro Rodrigues – as well as address parliament.
Flocking to Lisbon also, say reports, will be around 45,000 of the 15 million ‘ismailis’ from various corners of the world. As a reader has commented below, this sect of Islam is considered the “most peaceful and inclusive” of all of the variants, “unlike several others”. They believe the Imam has the authority to interpret the Koran/ Qur’an “in relation to the present time”.
Their influx means there will be a number of “traffic constraints” around the capital until celebrations end on Wednesday July 11.
Described in the popular press as a “prince without a State”, the Aga Khan is someone who lives “a discreet life, and tries to avoid the media spotlight”, says tabloid Correio da Manhã.
This has to be set against reports that say he is also “a man known for his lavish lifestyle and interest in beautiful women and racehorses”.
An article written six years ago entitled ‘five things to know about the Aga Khan’, described the apparent direct descendant of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed as “among the world’s 10 richest royals”. He has a personal fortune that has been pegged by some at 800 million US dollars, by others at 3 billion dollars.
His Aga Khan humanitarian foundation has been present in Portugal since 1983.
Three years ago, newspapers announced that the Aga Khan would be moving his official residence to Portugal within the next five years, and setting up the first Aga Khan European Academy here.
Since then, the Ismaili Imamat has purchased a run-down Lisbon palacete which is being lavishly rehabilitated ahead of an official opening due next year (click here), and has stepped in with financial help for communities devastated by last summer’s wildfires (click here).
Says CM, the Imamat “will have a special fiscal regime, according to an agreement celebrated with the Portuguese State”.
Asia Plus news website elaborates on what it calls the “landmark agreement” (signed in November 2015), saying it “recognises the Ismaili Imamat by the Portuguese Republic as an international entity endowed with the legal personality and capacity to act in national and international relations”.