A member of the UAE royal family has called on the world to work as one to eradicate religious extremism, saying we ought to “vie with one another in virtue”.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Co-existence, made the plea when opening a five-day forum that began on the world’s first International Day for Human Fraternity.
”I call on all of you today to work together to promote the inclusion of all regions of the world in the progress of humanity,” he said to an audience of almost 2,000 international officials, experts and academics, who attended the forum virtually.
“I call on you to work together to eradicate religious and cultural misunderstandings … [and] to join with us in the UAE in demonstrating that pluralism within diverse human societies is a positive and creative force for development and stability everywhere,” he said.
“Together, we will take up the banner of peace and preservation of human progress in our local and global communities.”
The forum was organised by the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence and the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity to support and mark the International Day of Human Fraternity.
The date, February 4, was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the day Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb, signed the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
On Thursday, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the UAE was "committed to fostering fellowship and open dialogue".
"The UAE was honoured to host the signing of the Human Fraternity Document," he said.
At the forum, the UAE’s Minister of state for International Co-operation, Reem Al Hashimy, spoke of the role of women and girls in promoting inclusivity - one of the key facets of the Document on Human Fraternity.
“Women are instrumental and irreplaceable in leading efforts to encourage dialogue, promote reconciliation, and confront the pernicious threat of extremism. They are uniquely positioned to spread messages of tolerance and inclusion in their communities, and serve as role models not only for young women and girls, but for society as a whole,” she said.
“We therefore welcome wholeheartedly the emphasis of the Document on Human Fraternity on protecting women's rights, and call upon the international community to address gaps and barriers that prevent women from actively contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security. We simply cannot afford to exclude or under represent those who would change the world for the better.”
The extraordinary work of women to counter hatred was no better represented than by Moroccan-French activist, Latifa Ibn Ziaten, who won the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity on Wednesday along with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The pair received the award and a $1 million prize to further their initiatives in a virtual ceremony at Abu Dhabi’s Founders Memorial on Thursday.
The award recognises individuals committed to fostering conditions for peaceful coexistence around the world.
Ms Ibn Ziaten was recognised for dedicating her life to raising awareness against religious extremism after her son, Imad, died in a terrorist attack in 2012. She works with families and communities to prevent youth radicalisation and spreading the message of peace and mutual respect.
"On the International Day of Human Fraternity, with great humility, I receive the Zayed Prize for Human Fraternity 2021 and I sincerely hope that this award will increase awareness of the importance of the work we do in the Emad Association for Youth and Peace and that more progress can be made to eliminate youth extremism resulting from exclusion and marginalisation," she said.
Mr Guterres was chosen by a panel of six judges for working to further world peace and security since being named Secretary-General of the UN four years ago. He donated his winnings to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which assists about 79.5 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes.
Pope Francis congratulated the two for winning the prize.
In a message to his 19 million Twitter followers, he said: “I thank both of you for your witness.”