The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments participated in the conference on “Tolerance and Peace” held in Cairo under the stewardship of the Arab League and the Global Peace for Tolerance and Peace with the participation of a wide range of ministers of culture, endowments and religious affairs and a host of high-profile Arab figure. The aim is to shed light on the institutions’ efforts in combatting hatred and fanatism and promoting the culture of tolerance, addressing the obstacles and the challenges and foreseeing a future vision on this topic. Invited to the stage, Dr Mohamed Matar al-Kaabi, Chairman of Awqaf, expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Arab League and the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace for their initiative to hold the conference, which is a platform where decision-makers can exchange experiences of their countries and the initiatives of their institutions on the fight against the culture of hate and dissemination of the culture of tolerance and peace. Dr al-Kaabi said: “let me give you a brief summary of my country’s experience in fostering the values of tolerance and peace in the Emirati religious discourse; Awqaf has taken on the responsibility to achieve the national agenda and the wise government policy under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and Their Highness the Rulers of the Emirates”. He also said that the Islamic Affairs strategy in the Emirati religious discourse is based on the promotion of the religious tolerance values brought by the prophets’ missions, adding that their teachings called for cooperation and human fraternity in conformity with what the Quran says: “He [Allah] has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Nouh and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Ibrahim and Moussa and Eissa – to establish the religion and not be divided therein”. He noted that among the most prominent values are the respect for human dignity, communication and coexistence among nationalities and religious followers while ensuring the freedom of belief and the right to citizenship without discrimination based on religion, race or ethnicity. He further said that our initiatives to cement the values of tolerance and peace in the religious are based on two points as follows: He highlighted that the 1st point targets those responsible for the religious discourse, namely the Imams, Khateebs and preachers, who are selected according to the standards of academic competence, religious eligibility and intellectual safety from the pits of extremist ideologies and deviant tendencies adopted by what is known as the political Islam and terrorist intellect groups. He continued to say that those in charge of the religious discourse are committed to adhering to the tolerance document, which prescribes the adherence to the anti-discrimination law No.2 of 2015 that criminalises acts related to contempt of religions, renounces hate speech via different platforms of expression, also criminalises any action or speech that stokes the sedition or feelings of racism among individuals or groups, and prohibits segregation among individuals or groups on the basis of religion, belief, creed, sect, race, skin colour or origin. “Thanks to the law, you will never hear in the UAE somebody provokes followers of religions against one another; on the contrary, lessons and sermons are filled with love, tolerance and peace and encouragement for compassion, solidarity and harmony,” noted Dr al-Kaabi. “The 2nd point is about the content of the religious discourse, including the Friday sermon, mosque lessons, preaching plan, programmes of religious awareness and Islamic education curricula where the religious content is created in accordance with a sound academic methodology whose materials are derived from reliable sources,” said Dr al-Kaabi. He explained that Awqaf topics that are appropriate and fulfil the needs of society and instil in the target audience the freedom of belief, positive communication with others, respect for cultural diversity, which enriches the Emirati community in various fields, and a commitment not to discriminate among the components of society because of skin colour, gender, nationality, religion, creed or sect, appreciation of human dignity, acquaintance and human cooperation, giving everyone his right irrespective of his religion or belief, rejecting the culture of hatred and religious and sectarian intolerance, criminalising hate speech and discrimination, preserving sanctities and places of worship, promoting peace and coexistence between different cultures and civilisations in the UAE. Concluding his speech, Dr al-Kaabi put forward two suggestions as follows: 1- Documenting the successful experiences in safe religious discourse and exchanging them with the official religious institutions. 2- Studying to transfer the UAE’s experience with regards to the unification of the Friday sermon, preaching plan and mosque lessons and the promotion of the religious discourse that contributes to cherishing the culture of tolerance and peace.

Source: General Authority of Endowments and Islamic Affairs