Pope Francis, Congolese doctor nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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“As a Muslim, it is a great honor to nominate a pope!”

Oslo (dpa) – Pope Francis and Congolose physician Denis Mukwege have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, lawmakers in Norway said Friday, a few days before the nomination deadline.

The pope “has played a great role in the world. As far as I know, no pope has ever received the prize,” Abid Raja, member of parliament for the Liberal Party, told news agency NTB.

He cited the pope’s engagement for social justice and defence for freedom of religion.

“As a Muslim, it is a great honour to nominate a pope,” he added.

Parliamentarians, academics, former peace laureates, as well as current and former members of the Nobel Committee are among those who have the right to make nominations by the February 1 deadline.

Mukwege, who like the pope has been nominated in the past, was put forward by among others Audun Lysbakken, leader of the Norwegian opposition Socialist Left Party, and Christian Democrat Hans Olav Syversen.

Last year, Mukwege won the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize. He runs a hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has treated thousands of victims of gang rape committed by warring groups.

Last year, Pakistani teen education advocate Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi of India shared the award. They were selected from a record 278 nominations.

The five-member Nobel Committee advises those making nominations not to reveal their proposals, but there are no formal rules against doing so.

The tally for 2015 is not expected until early March when the Nobel Committee has met and registered all the nominees, a spokeswoman for the Nobel Institute told dpa.

The Nobel Institute was set up in 1904 and assists the Nobel Committee in vetting candidates nominated for the prize.

The peace prize is one of several endowed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. The winner is usually announced in October.

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