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Saturday, March 25, 2017
- On the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance, a United Nations-led campaign celebrated on November 16th each year, the UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, has issued a statement on how the state follows the values of tolerance, as laid down by the founding fathers of the nation.
In an opinion piece released this morning, the Minister of State gives her thoughts about the nation’s noble pursuit of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people of the state, the region and the world.
The Minister wrote, “Many members of the political, social and economic elite in the West beg the question, ‘What do you know about tolerance in the UAE?’ It is also a big question for peoples of the world who seek to know more facts about the tolerance in the UAE.
In this article, I refer to tolerance as a noble human value that brings all people together as one international family and global community upholding the values of love, friendliness, cooperation as well as respect. The deep foundations of the values of tolerance and coexistence in the UAE were laid by the wise leadership of the country, namely the founding father of the Federation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who launched the journey of modernisation.
The UAE continues to pursue the same approach in its humanitarian and moral journey to further consolidate the values of tolerance and concord, thanks to the keen interest and support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”
Speaking about the UAE Cabinet’s historic decision to create the Ministry of Tolerance, in a world’s first, Sheikha Lubna said, “Because the world and the Arab region in particular need intellectual reconstruction to further establish the values of tolerance, plurality and acceptance of others who are different in terms of thought, culture, sect or religion. This is especially important because the world today is facing challenges and problems caused by hate, extremist, discriminatory and violent rhetoric.
In light of all this, the UAE spares no efforts to shoulder its historic national and human responsibility of preserving normal common sense of co-existence, tolerance and harmony, as well as uphold the common global values of unity and togetherness. To achieve that, the UAE has taken the relevant measures, enacted legislation and launched plans and strategies to achieve happiness and well-being for all people from all races and cultures within its borders.
The UAE is an ideal home for nationals of more than 200 countries who live, work and interact in peace and harmony, which means these people consider the UAE an ideal environment for dignified life, religious tolerance, cultural acceptance and intellectual diversity.
Moreover, Islam is a tolerant religion that promotes the values of peaceful coexistence, dialogue, understanding, cooperation and harmony, while rejecting violence, extremism, hate, fanaticism and discrimination.
The constitution of the UAE states that the country’s relations with all other countries is based on mutual respect. It also provides for equality and indiscrimination, upholds rights and duties and protects the right to worship which is guaranteed by law.
The UAE has enacted legislation and laws to promote tolerance in society and deter the spread of wrong thoughts that incite hate, violence, discrimination and extremism.
Federal Decree No. 02 of 2015 was enacted to criminalise all forms of discrimination on the grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin, as well as combat the use of religion by individuals or groups to term other religious groups or individuals as infidels or unbelievers.
The government and people of the UAE extend a helping hand to the needy and those affected by crises, conflicts and wars, regardless of their colour, race, gender or religious sect. This has led to the UAE being the world’s largest donor country of Official Development Assistance, ODA, in proportion to its Gross National Income, GNI, in 2013 and 2014.
The UAE is committed to international charters and agreements on tolerance and coexistence as well as those that reject extremism and violence. The UAE joined the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and took measures to implement this convention.
The constitution, criminal, civilian and economic laws of the UAE uphold the rules of the convention and the principle of equal rights and duties while banning all forms of racial discrimination.
Article 15 of Federal Law No. 02 of 2008, regarding public-benefit establishments and associations, prevents any such body from violating the goals stated in their bylaws and inciting sectarian, racial and religious conflicts.
Furthermore, the UAE is making regional and international contributions to promote tolerance and coexistence while rejecting violence and terrorism, for instance, the Sawab Centre, which is a joint UAE-US initiative to harness means of communication and social media to correct wrong ideology and give more space to moderate voices.
Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, was created as a partnership between the UAE and the UK as the first independent research and training centre for combating all forms of violent extremism by offering activities such as dialogue, training and researches.”
Sheikha Lubna concluded her article by saying, “In summary, the UAE has a strong belief in preparing man and humanity, takes a keen interest in coexistence, harmony, respect for cultural pluralism and acceptance of others from different cultures and races, and provides the best services in the sectors of education, healthcare, economy, entertainment, housing, infrastructure, technology and telecommunications.”