Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, today opened the Global Conference of Human Fraternity, convened under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi.
The conference is hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders, an Abu Dhabi-based independent international organisation headed by His Eminence Dr. Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, in conjunction with the inaugural visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, to the UAE.
Addressing the gathering, Sheikh Nahyan said, "We are delighted to welcome Pope Francis and The Grand Imam to the UAE."
He added, "Through hosting this conference, the UAE seeks to address the myriad challenges of the 21st century via tolerance. As a multicultural event that encourages compassion, respect and understanding among different communities, cultures and religions, the gathering enables us to counter extremism, prejudice, hate, aggression, greed, and oppression that violate the very idea of human fraternity."
He also noted that the conference provides a rare opportunity to unleash the power of wisdom and reason, and learn from the ideas shared by the eminent personalities in attendance, while also recognising the virtue of diversity and difference as highlighted by the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, known as 'the wise man of the Arabs'.
Furthermore, he conveyed his pride in the UAE's Arab and Islamic heritage which allows the country to welcome people from all corners of the earth, noting that the country is ready to share its experience and in-depth understanding of the universal power of tolerance to promote peaceful coexistence among diverse communities across the globe.
In closing, Sheikh Nahyan expressed his confidence that the conference will become a landmark event whose outcomes will significantly contribute to improving global relations and fraternity among nations.
For his part, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, said, "The Arab League represents the cultural heritage of the ethnically diverse Arab world. The Global Conference of Human Fraternity celebrates the essence of humanity and diversity. There is no more important value today than tolerance, as sectarianism and racism rear their ugly heads all over the world. We live in a region which was the first to call for brotherly love among all human beings, irrespective of race. This common element has been binding our people together for centuries. The cohesiveness achieved in our society was possible only because the people of the region accepted their mutual differences."
He also noted that the second World Youth Forum, held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, honoured three historical figures � the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and former Egyptian President Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat � for presenting a comprehensive vision of human fraternity.
Aboul Gheit called for the concept of tolerance to be included in school curriculums to help the new generations enhance their knowledge and strengthen bonds with communities around the world.
In turn, Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute, said, "This conference assumes special significance in these troubled times, when violence is perpetrated for different reasons, and we have become more aware of the dangers represented by religious extremism. The historic event has gathered hundreds of leaders from every part of the world to discuss the oneness of humanity. A few decades ago, it was not even possible to imagine a gathering of this kind dedicated to harmony and human fraternity."
His Beatitude Bishop Yulius, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, said, "The Global Conference of Human Fraternity is a pioneering event in reinforcing the value of tolerance. All human beings come from one father and one mother, Adam and Eve, and hence we all are brothers and sisters living on one earth and under one sky. Fraternity among diverse people is the safety valve that preserves human existence. Human fraternity helps sustain human dignity and purify our souls through promoting love towards one another. Dignity is a virtue God has afforded everyone regardless of nationality or religion."
"The UAE presents a unique example of peace and harmony through hosting several Christian churches. Its Founding Father was also known as 'Zayed Al Khair', because he championed the values of peace and tolerance," he added.
Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches, said, "We all are members of one human family, and it is very common that each member of the family holds different opinions. The same is true for the entire human race as we seek to solve our differences through love and appreciating different viewpoints. It is our responsibility that we all reflect God's love for man and live as one family for the sake of mankind. We can achieve this through promoting the values of citizenship and developing a new narrative based on peace and human fraternity."
Ali Al-Amin, Member of the Muslim Council of Elders, noted, "The UAE has set a perfect example of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among diverse communities. This gathering reinforces the human bond, calls for dialogue between all nations and religions, and rejects fanaticism. All religious books denounce violence in all its forms. The real cause of violence is not religions but people and their ruthless pursuit of their own ambitions and desire to impose control over others. Religion is love and love is religion. Humanity today is in dire need of peace and tolerance so that it can continue to prosper."
For his part, Swami Brahmavihari, Senior Priest of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, said, "Human fraternity has become a topic more important than economic growth and climate change, and therefore, I thank the organisers for hosting this first-of-its-kind conference. Every religion is a goldmine of values, and the world is like one family."
He added, "As home to more than 200 nationalities, the UAE is a model of peaceful coexistence. The country turned the concept of human fraternity into reality through implementing various initiatives that promote tolerance, including setting up dedicated ministries for tolerance and happiness. I congratulate the leaders of this country for marking 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance', which is the soul of this nation. I stand here as a living example of the country's openness to different religions and communities."
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs