600 religious leaders come together to foster peace
Abu Dhabi - The Global Conference for Human Fraternity kicked off on Sunday to coincide with the historic visit of Pope Francis to the UAE.
Prominent leaders of different religions have come together in Abu Dhabi for a peaceful dialogue on how to end violence worldwide.
The Global Conference for Human Fraternity kicked off on Sunday to coincide with the historic visit of Pope Francis to the UAE and his meeting with Dr Ahmed Al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Tolerance, said the human fraternity conference is a rare global alliance that will reaffirm the values of tolerance and fight terrorism, extremism and hatred.
"You leaders have assembled here as an extraordinary, diverse international group of brothers and sisters. You represent the diversity that exemplifies humanity," Sheikh Nahyan said, addressing more than 600 religious figures from across the world.
The two-day conference being held at Emirates Palace will revolve around three main themes: principles of human fraternity; common responsibility to achieving human fraternity; and challenges and opportunities.
"This conference is truly a unique multi-cultural event that builds on tolerance and enables and encourages empathy, compassion, understanding and respect.
You will constitute a global alliance dedicated to identifying the action that will reaffirm values and combat extremism, terrorism, poverty, ill treatment of women, environmental abuse, illiteracy, prejudice and hate, scientific and logical ignorance, lack of sanitation and healthcare, and greedy establishments that oppose the very idea of human fraternity," the minister said.
Describing Pope Francis and Grand Imam as "global forces for compassion and peace", Sheikh Nahyan said they exemplify the moral force that is needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
"Their participation in this conference speaks eloquently of the power of tolerance and human fraternity. You also represent that power."
Addressing the conference, Ahmed Abdoul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League, said human fraternity and tolerance should be the most important topics of discussion today because the world is hungry for love, peace and unity.
"Religious, political and tribal sentiments are spreading across the world today, thereby creating hatred and division among people. Tolerance and human fraternity are needed to foster peaceful coexistence," said Gheit.
"Currently, we are in a region that calls for brotherly love through the worship of one God. Both Islam and Christianity have common elements; they speak to humanity and souls about the greatness of love for one another, peace, equality and respect for each other."
Bishop Yolius, General Bishop of Coptic Orthodox Churches, said nations and religions need to work and focus on things that bring humans together rather than those that divide people.
"We have to deepen the values of tolerance. We have to live together as one irrespective of our religious, cultural and political differences, like the UAE does - love for all and tolerance for all, we should all emulate this."
Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, said:
"We are all connected genetically and one of our differences is the colour of our skin. We should avoid racism on the basis of colour, gender, religion and political differences."
Ali Al Amin, member of the Muslim Council of Elders, said the conference serves as "an intellectual forum that enables us to listen to the voice of reason and wisdom in human interactions regardless of one's race and religious identity".
"We are here to call for global peace and reject violence. Through such forums, we reinforce the concepts of citizenship and peaceful coexistence among communities," said Al Amin.