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
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