In a ceremony marked by warmth and a shared vision for a more inclusive world, the Stan Greenspon Holocaust and Social Justice Education Center at Queens University of Charlotte awarded Imam Abdullah Antepli the prestigious 2024 Stan Greenspon Upstander Award. The accolade, reserved for those who exhibit remarkable bravery and commitment in the face of hate, was presented to Imam Antepli in recognition of his tireless efforts to build bridges across faith communities and combat hate with empathy and dialogue.
Currently serving as the vice president and provost of community engagement at Duke University, Imam Antepli also holds esteemed positions at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and Divinity School. His work, deeply rooted in fostering interfaith relations and promoting religious tolerance, has made him a beacon of hope and understanding in challenging times.
The award ceremony, attended by nearly 100 guests, was opened by Queens University’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, Sarah Fatherly, Ph.D. She set the tone by emphasizing the university’s role as a gathering place for thought leaders and activists. “Queens is committed to being a convener of thought leaders and practitioners on important issues that are facing our local and global communities,” Fatherly stated, underlining the institution’s dedication to making a meaningful impact through education and social justice efforts.
The highlight of the evening was the award presentation by Rabbi Judy Schindler, director of the Greenspon Center, who handed Imam Antepli a piece of handcrafted pottery inscribed with a poignant quote from Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer: “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”
Rabbi Schindler praised Imam Antepli’s longstanding commitment to peace and understanding. “These are dark and painful times, and we need to be the light,” she remarked. “Imam Antepli has been that source of light who has been building interfaith bridges of understanding between Muslims and Jews for more than two decades while promoting peace and religious tolerance.”
Accepting the award, Imam Antepli shared his vision for a united, empathetic world in his lecture “To Heal Our Broken World: The Role of Interfaith Efforts in Uniting Us.” He emphasized the critical role of interfaith dialogue in overcoming the challenges of antisemitism and Islamophobia. “The ugliness and difficulties of our current time is making me even more committed to repairing and healing the wounded landscape of Jewish-Muslim relations,” Imam Antepli declared, urging collective action to mend the divides.
The ceremony was a key event during Queens’ Presbyterian and Pluralist Week, which celebrates the diversity of religious and spiritual perspectives within the university community and beyond. This initiative is part of Queens University’s broader mission to foster an environment of inclusion and open dialogue, as highlighted by Queens University Chaplain Adrian Bird. “Our students, faculty, and staff represent a vibrant and diverse range of religious, spiritual, and philosophical world views,” Bird said, stressing the importance of creating spaces for meaningful engagement across differences.
Imam Antepli’s recognition at Queens University underscores a shared commitment to healing and unity, echoing the wider community’s aspiration for a world where empathy and understanding prevail over division and hate.