Abu Dhabi: A number of religious figures in the UAE praised the gesture of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, renaming Mohammad Bin Zayed Mosque to Mariam, Umm Eisa Mosque.
Joseph Faragalla, pastor at the Arabic Evangelical Church in Abu Dhabi, said that the gesture embodies principles and values of coexistence between religions in the UAE.
Speaking to Emirates News Agency (WAM), he said such an initiative is unprecedented on a global level, and reflects the tolerance of the UAE’s wise leadership, who is respected and is a source of pride for everyone.
He expressed his thanks to the UAE government and people on the initiative, and pointed out that the mosque’s new name and the fact that it is steps away from a church aim to highlight the spirit of Muslim-Christian brotherliness.
Also expressing his thoughts was Rev Bishoy Fakhri, pastor of the Cathedral Church in Abu Dhabi, who said, “The UAE sets a real example of tolerance, which transcends ideas and slogans to become a practical reality and reaching the stage of social harmony.”
Rev Fakhri added that the move is a unique gesture and demonstrates the true image of Islam and of peaceful coexistence.
Rev Ebrahim Farouk, patron of the Pope Tawadros Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt in Abu Dhabi, told WAM that the UAE is always leading the world in the field of religious tolerance, brotherhood and peace, strengthened through its laws. “Using the name of ‘Mother Mary’ on this mosque is a gesture of love and peace that we hope will be followed around the world,” he added.
Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, unveiled the plaque with the mosque’s new name, and said: “Naming this large and renowned mosque in Abu Dhabi after Virgin Mary, and the fact that the mosque is surrounded by churches, is an indication of tolerance, coexistence and mutual respect between religions.”
She said the gesture is a positive message to the entire world, and she added: “On our visits and meetings abroad, we speak about the massive role played by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE). The GAIAE works on bolstering values of tolerance and moderation in Islam and respecting all divine religions to counter extremist views through moderate religious sermons in mosques, Friday sermons and lessons provided by its scholars.”