The high-level meeting on Wednesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb, met the judging committee for the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity (ZAHF) 2022, the third round of the award, on Thursday, in Rome.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Pope Francis sought support for efforts in the interest of human fraternity at a meeting with the judging committee for the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2022. He also called his 2019 Abu Dhabi meeting with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, as the “first step” along the path of human fraternity.

During Thursday's meeting, the Grand Imam urged the judging committee to advance with their work the global humanitarian project of human fraternity, which goes beyond the limits of religion and geography, and encourages pioneering examples that promote peaceful coexistence, tolerance, peace, and human fraternity. He stressed that the Document on Human Fraternity was never directed to a specific religion or a specific ethnicity and nationality, but rather to all humans regardless of race, religion, or colour.

The Grand Imam stated that the world has lived through wars and tragedies, especially in the Middle East and Africa, which are still suffering, adding: “I am on the verge of tears when I see the scenes of the homeless, refugees, the poor, and children dying in the hands of their mothers. You must bear these scenes in mind and harness your efforts to help people. You have a golden opportunity to participate in changing this world to a world where love, affection and goodness prevail.”

The jury affirmed that the values outlined in the document will serve as a source of guidance for them during the selection of the winners of the third round of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2022. The meeting and message of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Coexistence, also known as the Abu Dhabi Declaration, should be maintained and sustained, Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, has said.

The Document was signed by the two spiritual leaders in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and patron of human fraternity.

The independent Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2022 judging committee includes former president of Niger and winner of the 2020 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership Mahamadou Issoufou, 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate and former president of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta, former deputy president of South Africa and former UN under-secretary-general Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Holy See H.Em. Cardinal Michael Czerny, president of the Aladdin Project Leah Pisar, and Secretary-General of the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity (HCHF) Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam.

“It is an honour for the judging committee to meet with His Holiness, whose joint path of human fraternity alongside the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar serves as inspiration to the committee and to the world, which is suffering from humanitarian and health crises, as well as the plagues of selfishness, inequality, and injustice,” said Judge Abdelsalam, former adviser to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the first Arab Muslim to receive the Catholic pope’s highest honour.

Following the visit with Pope Francis, the judging committee held its first in-person meeting in Rome, discussing evaluation mechanisms in deciding the 2022 award honourees.

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity aims to advance human fraternity values — what Pope Francis has called “the challenge of our century” — by recognising individuals and entities who have made profound contributions to advancing human fraternity values and peaceful coexistence.

The award, which is granted by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF), was established in February 2019 to mark the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam, wherein the two signatories became the first honorary recipients of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

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Wednesday’s meeting between Pope Francis and the judging committee was organized by the HCHF, which grants the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity annually. The HCHF is an independent international committee instituted to promote human fraternity values around the world and to fulfil the aspirations of the Document on Human Fraternity.

The 2022 honourees will be announced on February 4, 2022.