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Abu Dhabi: The St Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abu Dhabi held a ceremony on Sunday to celebrate Christmas in the attendance of the Egyptian community living in the country, a number of officials, and a large crowd of attendees and invitees.

Christmas is celebrated on January 7 by the Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe.

On the occasion, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, gave a speech — which was delivered on his behalf by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan — in which he welcomed the attendees, saying that the joy of this celebration coincides with the beginning of the ‘Year of Tolerance’ in the UAE, a country that cherishes its authentic Arab and Islamic heritage, and which calls for mutual respect among all religions and beliefs.

He said, “The UAE is keen to always be faithful and true to the principles of Islam and its timeless teachings of tolerance and mutual respect between different religions and beliefs.”

“It is vital to maintain the values of brotherhood and communication among believers of various religions and to maintain respect for each other’s rights and values for the good of everyone.”

He added, “We hope that the new year of tolerance in the UAE will be a year of peace, harmony and security in the whole world. We in the UAE are fully convinced that tolerance is an essential part of the fabric of a successful society. It is a vivid embodiment of the teachings of Islam and a means of positive communication with everyone. Justice and the rule of law and to achieve peace and progress in society and the world.”

At the end of his speech, the UAE Minister of Tolerance called on all to contribute to the year of tolerance in the UAE, saying, “I take this opportunity to invite you to contribute actively to the activities of the Year of Tolerance in the UAE and to build bridges of understanding, coexistence and dialogue between all, for the service of society and the advancement of human beings everywhere. “