Abu Dhabi, February 5: In what many are seeing as a historic moment, Pope Francis kissed and greeted Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday. The two kissed each other after signing a document on fighting extremism at the inter-religious meeting. Pope and Top Muslim Cleric in Joint Call for Freedom of Belief.
Pope Francis is on a historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates. The visit comes amid his outreach to the Muslim communities in a bid for world peace.
PICTURE: Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Egypt Kiss For World Peace
Pope Francis and Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb kiss each other during an inter-religious meeting in Abu Dhabi, and more photos of the day: https://t.co/Qbp0Nkkoky | 📷 Tony Gentile pic.twitter.com/RbfirftSsT
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) February 4, 2019
The two religious leaders - Pope and Imam - signed a document on "human fraternity for world peace and living together", described by the Vatican as an "important step forward in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims".
The Document Signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam
The Document on Human Fraternity, which I signed today in Abu Dhabi with my brother the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together. https://t.co/74Ig3XOPzw
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 4, 2019
During the meeting, they also called for "freedom of belief", the "promotion of a culture of tolerance", the "protection of places of worship" and "full citizenship" rights for minorities, all of which was part of the document they signed.
"It is... crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority," read the document.
It said "freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action" and that "pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God".
"The fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept," it said.
With inputs from agencies