ATLANTA - The Aga Khan, billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of 20 million Muslims worldwide, ended an eight-day tour of the U.S. Friday in Atlanta by stressing the importance of understanding, tolerance and global citizenship in education - especially in developing countries.
His trip also included stops in Texas, Illinois and California. It was part of the Shia Ismaili Muslim commemoration of the Golden Jubilee, which marks the Aga Khan's 50th year as imam of the religious sect.
In his speech at North Atlanta High School, he tried to raise awareness about the Aga Khan Academies, a $1 billion education initiative that will build 18 schools in 14 countries in Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East.
The Aga Khan told the audience that, ``Our Academies Program is rooted in the conviction that effective indigenous leadership will be the key to progress in the developing world, and as the pace of change accelerates, it is clear that the human mind and heart will be the central factors in determining social wealth.''
The Aga Khan, who was born and educated in Switzerland, is a Harvard-educated businessman who is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. In his capacity as imam, he is also chair of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of private, non-denominational development agencies focused on social, cultural and economic development.
On the Net:
The Aga Khan Academies: http://www.agakhanschools.org/aka.asp