Abu Dhabi: Religious leaders of various faiths, philanthropists and government officials have called on everyone to do their share in cementing a culture of peace on the occasion of International Day of Human Fraternity on Tuesday.
The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi also highlighted the “importance of rejecting hatred and promoting the spirit of tolerance to achieve world peace and coexistence.”
Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, chairman of DCD, said: “Today (February 4), the world celebrates the International Day of Human Fraternity, which started following the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi. The commemoration seeks to boost unity, solidarity and cooperation among people belonging to different ethnicities and religions, as well as spread the spirit of tolerance and respect for religious and cultural diversity. The UAE has legislated laws to provide all residents from different religious backgrounds with a decent life and criminalise any contempt of religions.”
Al Khaili emphasised: “Rejecting violence and hatred while adopting human fraternity and acceptance can directly contribute to the development and progress of any nation and support peace and coexistence. The UAE has followed the vision of its founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who sanctified the principles of tolerance, cohesion and community integration. This vision has helped the country become a paradise that attracts people from all around the world to live in love, peace and security. These values are essential to improving the quality of life of UAE community members.”
He added Abu Dhabi has emerged as a place where different cultures and religions peacefully interact, where there is respect for foreign cultures and other religions. “We are proud of the Department’s key role in regulating the establishment of places of worship for non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi, which has become the ideal destination to live, work, travel and invest thanks to its safety, security, social diversity and plurality that are evident in all parts of the emirate,” he continued.
Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Community Engagement and Sports Sector, DCD, added: “Today, Abu Dhabi has become a leading model for spreading tolerance and social cohesion… The government believes in comprehensive and sustainable development across all fields.”
BAPS Hindu Mandir hails UAE
Pujya Brahmavihari Swami of BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi also welcomed February 4 as the UN International Day of Human Fraternity. He underscored: “Tolerance and fraternity are the need of the hour and in the UAE they are not just nouns but verbs - values in action.”
In a one-minute video shared with Gulf News, he said: “We are celebrating not just a day nor a year but the history of humanity. In harmony, we flourish. In disharmony, we perish. Without human fraternity, we have no future. This is the need of the hour and the UAE is paving the path. A nation of many nations, cultures and traditions – here in the UAE, harmony and fraternity are not just beautiful nouns, they are active verbs seen everyday day in action.” He noted he has experienced this first-hand while building the BAPS Hindu Mandir, the first traditional stone temple in the Middle East.
Church highlights UAE’s efforts
Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, said the seeds of International Day of Human Fraternity were sown exactly two years ago when Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque Ahmad Al-Tayyib signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together in Abu Dhabi.
Bishop Paul called the document a ‘beacon of hope’ for the future of the world. “The intent of the document is very clear. End all forms of violence, particularly those motivated by fanatical religious views; actively spread the message of tolerance, respect and healthy co-existence; support minority rights and those of women and create conditions that ensure future generations live in peace and unity,” he continued.
The Catholic bishop also highlighted the UAE’s efforts promoting global peace and harmony during the pandemic. He said: “The UAE is presently number two worldwide in the administration of the vaccine against the Coronavirus. This is a sign of its care for the whole population. Beyond this, the UAE is contributing to the healing of wounds in the human community, helping people affected by calamities, be it the pandemic or natural calamities or wars.”
“The UAE is also involved in rebuilding wounded societies; they have shown this in Iraq, Lebanon and in Yemen and other places in the world. I take this not only as a question of political policy, but I take it also as a sign of a serious will to do what needs to be done under the aspect that we are one human family, that everyone who is in need deserves to be helped when possible,” he added.
Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara in Jebel Ali, Dubai, said: "We are fortunate to be part of the initiative of UAE Rulers and the government for International Day of Human Fraternity. This country is the only place where tolerance is a serious matter, where all the people are respected and accepted and are allowed to practise their religions and live peacefully. We wish this country, our second home, all the best in all its endeavours to promote peace and harmony in the region."