Why Vat­i­can visit was so im­por­tant

7DAYS Ed­i­tor in Chief Mah­mood Al Awadi looks at why HH Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Vat­i­can visit was so sig­nif­i­cant

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - news@7days.ae

Now, more so than ever, we need to pro­mote the tol­er­ance of Is­lam. UAE Am­bas­sador to the US Yousuf Al Otaiba’s re­cent mes­sage that Arabs must take the lead in es­tab­lish­ing global peace was an ex­am­ple of this.

And the re­cent visit by HH Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, to the Vat­i­can to meet with Pope Fran­cis clearly high­lighted our na­tion’s de­sire to pro­mote peace­ful co-ex­is­tence and ac­cep­tance of oth­ers’ be­liefs.

The en­vi­ron­ment in which chil­dren are nur­tured – whether mod­er­ate, ex­trem­ist or in­tol­er­ant – plays a big role in their ac­cep­tance of other peo­ple or their re­jec­tion of them.

With ris­ing Is­lam­o­pho­bia around the world and ter­ror­ism strik­ing ev­ery­where – in­dis­crim­i­na­tive of sex, colour, race or re­li­gion – it’s vi­tal that we fend off at­tempts to brand Is­lam with ter­ror­ism.

Sheikh Mo­hamed’s visit was de­signed to do just that, but also to ad­vo­cate Al Azhar Univer­sity, which em­braces an Is­lamic cur­ricu­lum that re­jects vi­o­lence and ex­trem­ism and is be­hind an un­com­pro­mis­ing cam­paign against ex­trem­ism and ter­ror.

Be­cause of the UAE’s spe­cial place among religious lead­ers, whether Mus­lims or Chris­tians, it has sought an in­ter-religious di­a­logue to unify the vi­sions of both re­li­gions, which made Al Azhar and the Church adopt a com­mon view that vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism has no con­nec­tion to any re­li­gion.

Ex­trem­ists in every re­li­gion do not rep­re­sent the po­si­tion of all fol­low­ers of the faith, these peo­ple are mis­guided and want to pro­mote religious strife, sec­tar­i­an­ism, racism and in­tol­er­ance, thereby threat­en­ing the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the world to achieve their goals.

The UAE’s ob­jec­tive is to en­sure sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity around the world. It has been one of the ma­jor prin­ci­ples in our for­eign pol­icy since the cre­ation of the union.

The visit to the Vat­i­can by Sheikh Mo­hamed also co­in­cided with the JASTA ( Jus­tice Against Spon­sors of Ter­ror­ism Act) law passed ear­lier this month by the US Congress. The bill at­tempts to nar­row the scope of for­eign sov­er­eign im­mu­nity by au­tho­ris­ing US courts to hear cases in­volv­ing claims against a for­eign state for in­juries or death in­side the US.

It has raised con­cerns among Arab and Is­lamic coun­tries, which stress that be­sides vi­o­lat­ing the prin­ci­pal of sov­er­eign equal­ity between states, it might also spread Is­lam­o­pho­bia. Sheikh Mo­hamed is at­tempt­ing to ex­plain that Is­lam is a re­li­gion of tol­er­ance and mod­er­a­tion and ter­ror­ist acts by ex­trem­ists are not Is­lamic. These groups should solely be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions – not the coun­tries they come from, as the JASTA law is try­ing to im­pose.

Rus­sian writer Leo Tol­stoy said: “The great­ness of the men is mea­sured by their willingness to for­give and tol­er­ance for those who harmed them.”

The UAE has recorded a high level in co­ex­is­tence of dif­fer­ent re­li­gions and cul­tures liv­ing in har­mony and trad­ing to­gether. That is what we must con­tinue to pro­mote and en­cour­age around the world.

INCITEMENT: Protests such as this one in Aus­tralia have stirred up Is­lam­o­pho­bia. Top: the sus­pected Man­hat­tan bomber. Lead­ers have stressed ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism has no place in Is­lam

HIS­TORIC: HH Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan hands over a gift to Pope Fran­cis

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