(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Top global religious leaders urged countries around the world to look at the UAE as an example of a nation that seeks religious and cultural tolerance, while helping combat racism and hatred.
During the fourth Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, themed Global Peace and Islamophobia,' held in Abu Dhabi on Monday, hundreds of religious leaders gathered to shed light on "The reality that our world faces today".
At the forum, which is held under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Shaykh Abd'Allah bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Peace, said combating radicalisation and intolerance must start within each nation.
He said it is crucial for education systems around the world to teach youth about co-existence.
"We must work on education in schools and universities - because to make progress you have to take care of your home."
Shaykh bin Bayyah said international peace is threatened, and thus world leaders must work hand-in-hand to fight radicalisation.
"Intellectuals and people with wisdom do exist in every region - but the problem is, these people are not bringing their efforts together to face the problems that our world faces today."
He said the UAE holding the forum reflects on the country's vision of unity. "This concept serve peace and harmony, not only between Muslims, but amongst all humanity."
He said the top objective for religious leaders at the forum is to show the reality of Islam. "The concept of jihad and a number of other concepts have been distorted and used in ways that are untruthful," he explained.
He stressed that extremism, as well as terrorist organisations, have wronged Islam. "These groups claim they are following the path of Islam, but they lost the path of Islam."
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, said the UAE will continue to spread its message of peace and acceptance.
"The leaders of this noble country always emphasis on tolerance and mutual understanding."
Sheikh Nahyan said the forum will help shed light on critical issues faced by Muslims around the world.
"The forum will allow us to share ideas and will enable us to develop strategies and proposals to achieve global peace and confront Islamophobia.
"Islam does not represent a threat to societies, but has a principle of mutual understanding and peace."
Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide, Senegal, said in order to witness change, countries must learn to educate communities about the importance of co-existence.
"The UAE spreads the message of tolerance, peaceful existence and harmony among people," he added.
"The UAE symbolises the future we see for our children and grandchildren, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum is an example of this testimony - a testimony that is built on an ambition, which promises that in a world filled with hate and violence, peace and harmony prevail."
Father Bishoy Salib, pastor of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Abu Dhabi, said the UAE has created a "blessed gathering," and continues to raise awareness about unification.
"The churches have been serving in the UAE for over 40 years. Our first mass began in 1974, and because of the UAE's long history, how neutral and open-minded it is towards embracing all cultures and religions, we can say that the UAE is an example of what every country in the world should be."
American Peace Caravan
Shaykh Bin Bayyah launched the American Peace Caravan this year to spread awareness about religious tolerance. The caravan includes various religious leaders from around the world who work together to promote unity.
The initiative was began in Abu Dhabi and Rabat, Morocco, in May, and will conclude after five years - when 50 cities, 500 mosques, churches and synagogues in the US are covered.
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