VATICAN CITY, 15th September 2016 (WAM) — His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has said that consolidating efforts for peace, security, stability and development in the world is one of the UAE’s main objectives. It stems, he said, from its core belief that achieving peace and security is a prerequisite for reaching comprehensive and sustainable development for all the people of the world.

Speaking on the occasion of his visit to the Vatican today, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed said that the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, does not hesitate to participate actively with the international community in all that is pertinent to achieving security, stability and development, as well as in promoting the values of peace, coexistence and justice in different parts of the world.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed also expressed his pleasure at his visit to Vatican City and the discussions with Pope Francis, saying it would be an important opportunity to strengthen mutual consultation and to exchange of views on ways to strengthen bilateral relations, as well as to consolidate the values of dialogue, coexistence and acceptance of others, which he described as a system of shared values.

“We are working together on promoting and enabling, in order for peace and stability to prevail throughout the world,” H.H. Sheikh Mohamed said.

He added that the tendency for militancy and extremism, which the world has recently witnessed, is in part due to the absence of a culture of coexistence, dialogue and acceptance of others. There is, he said, an urgent need to strengthen cooperation between all countries and regional, international, and UN organisations, in order to formulate strategies that promote constructive dialogue between cultures, respect for different beliefs and religions, and spread the culture of peace, as well as to address attempts at religious defamation and the incitement of values of religious hatred.

Within this framework, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed said, the United Arab Emirates will spare no effort in working to build the foundations of dialogue and coexistence among different civilisations, cultures, religions and peoples, based on the values of tolerance and openness, and far from any tendencies towards confrontation, extremism, intolerance and violence.

The UAE, he added, also stresses the need to develop international legislation to protect the sanctity of religions from abusers and conspirators who work to provoke tension and hostility between followers of different faiths.

H.H. Sheikh Mohamed went on to say that the UAE has been able to create a model for coexistence among more than the 200 nationalities who live on its land with a spirit of love, harmony and understanding, despite differences of culture, race, and religion.

It is this umbrella of safe coexistence, he said, which allows all to co-exist and worship freely. He noted that the law against hate crime and discrimination, which was issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa last year, reinforces this concept. The law, he pointed out, includes clauses that ensure equality amongst different members of the community, and criminalises discrimination between individuals or groups that is based on religion, creed, doctrine, denomination, sect, race, or colour between individuals or groups.

The law is also significant, he concluded, in the struggle against the incitement of hate speech and against the practice of ‘takfir’ (a term to describe the designation of others as apostates).

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said that the UAE appreciates the efforts undertaken by His Holiness Pope Francis to confront the ideas of intolerance, extremism and violence as well as attempts to defile places of religious sanctity. He also praised the continuous initiatives of Pope Francis to deal with various challenges and crisis facing the world, such as poverty, ignorance, violence and the culture of hatred, these being inseparable from worsening intolerance and extremism. These also represent a major priority for the UAE, he said.

He added that the UAE is working to address these challenges effectively, through a comprehensive strategy based on the promotion of the values of tolerance, moderation and acceptance of others and through humanitarian initiatives and projects to provide assistance to those in need in underprivileged areas and other areas experiencing armed conflict or exposed to natural disasters, with the objective of helping the development of these areas and ridding them of their crises and problems.

This grows, he said, out of the UAE’s belief that these kinds of crises represent one of the most important sources of threats to global stability, creating fertile environments for the growth of extremism, violence and the ideas of terrorism.

H.H. Sheikh Mohamed noted that Islam is a religion of tolerance and moderation, which calls for peace, dialogue and cooperation between human beings, adding that bloody terrorist groups that claim to speak in the name of Islam are deviant groups, far from away from a proper approach to religion, the Sharia and the correct teachings of Islam.

The UAE, he said, confronts such groups with a comprehensive vision, whether by active engagement in any international or regional moves to confront them, or by enhancing efforts to refute the ideas of these terrorist groups.

He added that the first step in defeating these groups is for them to be seen as criminal groups that have no connection to any religion, race or geographic area.

There is no doubt, he added, that it is an injustice to consider these groups as representing Islam, the Arabs and Muslims. If some people use the bloody practices of these terrorist groups to incite against Muslims and to insult what Muslims believe to be of religious significance, he said, then it is important to promote the role of religious institutions in tackling this incitement, in order to preserve world peace and stability and safeguard the relationship between its peoples. In this process, he concluded, His Holiness Pope Francis has a pivotal role to play.