DUBAI, Acceptance of diversity, education and dialogue are essential to help humanity live in peace and realize religious tolerance, according to speakers at the 'Religious Tolerance in Cities and Societies' Forum held at the seventh World Government Summit (WGS 2019) in Dubai.

In a session moderated by Afra Mohammed Hassan Al Sabri, Director-General of the Office of the UAE Ministry of Tolerance, Sultan Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto from Nigeria, said the significance of the Forum stems from the global consensus on the indispensable nature of peace in the world. "Without peace there can be no progress in any human endeavor. Peace is the most precious treasure of humanity," he said.

Sultan Muhammadu added that Islam places an emphasis on managing diversity and living in peace. "As Muslims, we should have no problem living in plural societies," he said, citing examples from the Holy Qur'an and from the life of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

He told delegates there are three primary areas that the world needs to work on to obtain global peace. The first is acceptance of diversity and respect for those who come from different religions, the second is improving communication and dialogue and the third is finding common ground.

He explained: "Continued communication between followers of different religions and across cultures should be promoted. It's important to realize that while legislations against hate speech can help, ultimately communication through dialogue is the remedy.

"And as human beings we have to cooperate for survival and success in this world. Trade and commerce can only flourish with peace. Protecting the environment for example affects us all regardless of religion.

Also speaking on the panel was Dr. Josef Boehle, Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation from the UK, who said that religious tolerance is now an indispensable foundation for peaceful societies and communities. He said both religious and interreligious education are important, from school to university. "It's very important to develop a tolerant attitude towards those who hold other beliefs."

Maria Elena Aguero, Secretary-General of the Club of Madrid in Spain, praised the UAE's declaration of 2019 as the Year of Tolerance and the Human Fraternity Meeting that took place last week between His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyeb, and said in Spain they have been working on the Shared Society Project.

She explained: "It is based on the concept that societies are more likely to be peaceful, fair, prosperous and democratic when leaders and citizens understand the value of diversity, respect and dignity of individuals regardless of their differences." As part of the project, a series of tools and action plans were designed to address the challenges faced by today's leaders to effectively and peacefully manage ethnic, cultural and religious differences in societies, she explained.

"Politicians and religious leaders must work hand in hand to provide moral leadership, and to actively pursue the acceptance and recognition that shared societal concerns and values are more significant than religious differences," she added.

The three-day World Government Summit 2019 runs until February 12 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organizations.

Source: Emirates News Agency