Watch: Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar hail 2021 Zayed Award winners

Web report/Dubai
Filed on February 4, 2021
Photo: Supplied

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Moroccan-French activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten were the two honorees.

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity held its annual award ceremony today with messages of congratulations conveyed to the 2021 honorees by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb — the 2019 honorees.


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Recognising their respective efforts to advocate for peaceful resolution to conflict and advocacy, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Moroccan-French activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten were presented as the two honorees of the 2021 award.

The ceremony took place in the picturesque setting of the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, with viewers tuning in online to join the celebrations and watch the winners accept their award.

In his goodwill message to both 2021 honorees, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, said: “Firstly, I must begin by saying that His Holiness Pope Francis has been a courageous brother and constant friend on the path of fraternity and peace. Such efforts have seen the United Nations General Assembly adopting the anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, February 4th, to be the International Day of Human Fraternity, which will now encourage universal support in pursuing the spread the intercultural dialogue, co-existence, and human fraternity. This is a victory for human dignity everywhere.

“I also extend my greetings and blessings to His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, as an honoree of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity. It is clear that his wide-range of humanitarian efforts exerted through the UN have sought to rid humanity of the sufferings of conflicts, and ease the negative effects of the pandemic."

Joint 2021 honoree Latifa Ibn Ziaten is a rare role model for the world, he added. "Her generosity of spirit and steadfastness in her ability to transform personal suffering into a message of security and safety for all, is a victory for all humanity and a reminder of the good that is always capable of defeating the forces of evil.”

Addressing the event from The Vatican, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of human fraternity as the 21st century’s key challenge.

“To the Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, I thank for the companionship during this journey of reflection and the writing of the Document [on Human Fraternity]. I know it wasn’t an easy task but together we helped each other, consolidating in true fraternity," he said.

“Today, fraternity is the new frontier of humanity," he continued. "Either we are brothers or we destroy ourselves. It is the challenge of our century; the challenge of our time. Human Fraternity means respect, to listen with an open heart, and to have strength in our principles.

“Born from the same father, with different cultures and traditions, we are all still brothers; and respecting our different cultures and traditions, our different citizenships, we must build this fraternity, not negotiate it. It is time to listen and for sincere acceptance.”

Marking the second anniversary since the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by the Pope and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi, the International Day of Human Fraternity was introduced by the UN General Assembly, in December 2020; the date chosen to commemorate the historic meeting of the Pope and Grand Imam, at the document’s signing, in 2019.

In addition to the awards ceremony and as part of the wider celebrations of the first International Day of Human Fraternity, several key landmarks in both The Vatican and Abu Dhabi will light up on Thursday evening.

The nominations process for the 2022 awards will open 1st May 2021 and end of December 2021. To find out if you qualify as a nominator or to nominate a candidate for next year’s award, go to:

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