Gargash: Pope visit overcomes the challenge posed by extremism in all religions
Pope Francis’ historic visit to Abu Dhabi is a significant step toward breaking the barriers of extremism and is in line with the country’s message of promoting co-existence and tolerance, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Monday.
“There is no doubt that the visit is historic. It is his first visit to the Arabian Peninsula. It particularly overcomes the challenge posed by extremism in all religions, not just in a specific one,” Gargash told Al Arabiya.
The head of Catholic Church and the sovereign of the Vatican, was accorded a state welcome to the UAE at a grand ceremony organized at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi on Monday. The Pope’s visit coincides with the Year of Tolerance being marked by the UAE in 2019.
The pope’s three-day visit, which began on Sunday, has also brought Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar al-Sharif to the country. Gargash called this an important event in the path of promoting interfaith dialogue.
“The presence of someone like Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in one place is significant in sending out the message of interfaith dialogue, which the UAE is eager to promote. This also marks breaking of the scourge of extremism during the past few decades,” Gargash said.
“In order to compete on a global level, every country has to break the barriers of extremism, which only divides us instead of uniting,” he said. Later on Monday, al-Tayyeb is scheduled to take part in the International Conference for Human Fraternity alongside Pope Francis.
The conference brings together 700 multi-faith representatives from around the world. They will visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque together and the Pontiff and will also meet the Muslim Council of Elders.
On Tuesday, Pope Francis will hold a Holy Mass at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, which is expected to be attended by more than 135,000 people.