The Good King

Karim Aga Khan IV and the Aga Khan Development Network
7th of december 2004
A Deutschlandfunk / Saarländischer Rundfunk co-production
Feature Programme
(duration: 55 minutes; audio excerpt: 7´02)

The Aga Khan is the religious leader of 20 million Ismailis. Karim Aga Khan IV is honoured by his supporters as the 49th Imam, as a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The Ismailis are Shia Muslims and live mainly in India, Pakistan, Central Asia, East Africa and Canada. In all these countries, this small group forms a sort of avant-garde of a liberal and enlightened islam. The Aga Khan is not only a religious leader, but also directs the world´s biggest private development organization (the Aga Khan Development Network). Education is of prime importance to him. The 300 Aga-Khan-Schools which exist all over the world always rank among the best of each country. The curriculum is not oriented towards faith or learning the Coran verses by heart, but performance. The schools are open to pupils of all denominations who graduate with an International Baccalaureat. The Aga Khan, though, without military power, without a State, not elected and not accountable to any constituency, enjoys considerable esteem in the political arena. He meets openly with Presidents Bush, Putin and Musharraf – no other prominent Muslim has such a direct line to the powerful figures of the world. “His Highness” is like a head of state without the state. Outwardly he always maintains political neutrality. What are his objectives? A mediator between the religions, a mediator in international conflicts?