Orchestrated by the President of the Board of Trustees of the FICRT, Mr. Jumaa Alkaabi, the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance (FICRT) is holding this Friday from 17.00 hours via Zoom "Human Fraternity and Diplomacy of Religions", a conference to cover the concept and evolution of the term Human Fraternity.
Three years ago, Pope Francis, the highest authority of the Catholic Church, landed in the United Arab Emirates for a historic visit. Bergoglio, who was received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, became the first pontiff to travel to the Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of Islam. During his stay in the country, in addition to meeting with political and religious authorities, he advocated peace and coexistence between Christians and Muslims.
This visit culminated in a meeting between the Pope and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, who signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence. This text, drawn up with "sincerity and seriousness", encourages all people of faith to "unite and work together". The document is defined as a "guide for new generations towards a culture of mutual respect" that seeks "reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, including between believers and non-believers, and among all people of goodwill".
On the occasion of the third anniversary of the signing of this text, the Emirates will organise a series of events to commemorate this historic milestone that seeks coexistence, harmony and peace between religions.
Dubai Expo 2020 is hosting the Festival of Human Fraternity, organised by the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence in collaboration with the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity. It is also attended by international and Arab entities, including representatives from Al-Azhar and the Vatican, according to the Emirati news agency, WAM. The festival will conclude with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence and the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity to reaffirm the commitment expressed in the document signed by the Grand Imam and the Pope.
Mohamed Abdel-Salam, secretary general of the Higher Committee for Human Brotherhood, thanked Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his efforts to achieve the goals embodied in the text. "The historic moment of human brotherhood that the world witnessed three years ago in Abu Dhabi has now become a global project thanks to the great support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for this humanitarian project," he said.
Pope Francis, for his part, has called for "the nations of the world to join in this celebration, aimed at promoting inter-religious and cultural dialogue". "I hope that concrete steps will be taken together with believers of other religions and also with people of good will to affirm that today is a time of fraternity, avoiding fuelling confrontations and divisions," he added, Vatican News reports.
In recent years, the UAE has emerged as a regional model of coexistence and understanding between different religions and cultures. Unlike some of its neighbours, Abu Dhabi allows freedom of worship, as the country is home to more than one million Christians, mostly Asian nationals, although it also has significant Maronite and Coptic communities. In this regard, the Emirates offers several Christian temples, such as St Joseph's Cathedral in the capital and the Church of St Francis in Dubai, one of the 11 shrines in the city.
This religious respect also extends to Judaism. The Jewish community in the UAE has been strengthened since the signing of the Abrahamic Accords. The country has a Jewish school, a mikveh - a place used by Jews for purification -, a Jewish Council - chaired by Elie Abadie - and even a kosher restaurant in the centre of Dubai. "Jewish life here in the UAE has been able to blossom like a desert rose," Levi Duchman, the country's resident rabbi, told Chabad.org. "The coexistence and true respect that people have for each other here is beautiful and, unfortunately, all too unique," he added.
Aiming to maintain that religious and cultural coexistence, the UAE established the Ministry of Tolerance in 2016, led by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. The nation was also a regional pioneer in developing laws and policies that allow citizens to practice their religion without problems, with the possibility of building their own places of worship.
The Emirates was also the first country in the world to designate the 'Year of Tolerance' in 2019; and, thanks to an initiative presented by Abu Dhabi, in December 2020 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 4 February 'International Day of Human Brotherhood'.
In this context, it is worth mentioning 'The Abrahamic Family House', a complex under construction that will house a synagogue, a mosque and a church in Abu Dhabi. The project, which will be completed this year, aims to strengthen religious practices and foster intercultural dialogue.
In addition, coinciding with International Human Fraternity Day, the Foundation for Islamic Culture and Religious Tolerance (FICRT) will be joined by Míriam Díez Bosch, Director of the Blanquerna Media Observatory, Nabil Ayad, Director of the Academy of Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University, London, for its conference "Human Fraternity and Diplomacy of Religions", Javier Fernández Villina, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic Studies at the Complutense University of Madrid and Researcher at the University Institute of Sciences and Religions, Jaume Flaquer, Director of the Andalusian Chair for the Dialogue of Religions (CANDIR) and Professor at the Faculty of Theology of Granada (Loyola University) and Juan Ramón Ferreiro Galguera, Professor of State Ecclesiastical Law at the University of A Coruña.
It will be presented by Mohammed Dahiri, professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Complutense University of Madrid and researcher at the University Institute of Religious Sciences.