Year of Tolerance Leadership and Round Colloquium

By Supplied Time of article published Nov 29, 2019

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The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Pretoria in collaboration with the Centre of Human Rights at the University of the Pretoria, hosted the 2019 Year of Tolerance colloquium on Leadership on 22 November 2019 and 23 November 2019 respectively. 

The two-day colloquium sought discuss the role religious and community leaders can play in pursuit of a more stable, peaceful and tolerant society. A landmark moment which leading up to the 2019 United Arab Emirates (UAE) Year of Tolerance was the visit to the UAE by Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State and Dr. Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar.

Their historic tour of the country was a shining symbol of inter-faith harmony, as two hugely influential religious leaders came together to spread a message of peace and hope. Signed by both religious leaders, the document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” read: “We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.” 

Consequent on above, various events and programmes have been held around the world this year to promote cross-cultural interactions in the arts and academy, to advance UAE’s advocacy for a more tolerant world. The two-day colloquium highlighted the UAE’s dedication to welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs and its role in encouraging peace and stability beyond its borders. Being home to over 200 nationalities and over 40 churches of different Christian denominations; a Sikh temple and several Hindu temples, the UAE has been intentional about creating religious and cultural diversity – and aims to promote same globally. 

The two-day colloquium commenced with leaders of various faiths including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, who shared their doctrines on peace and living together in harmony. The common running ideology among all religions represented were of people becoming more tolerant of one another within our societies. Faith leaders present highlighted the manner in which how all peoples from different faiths needed to become more tolerant of one another despite the differences. The Ambassador of the United Arab Embassy to South Africa, His Excellency Mahash Alhameli, Ambassador of The UAE, opening remark - "Each country should have a programme to eliminate problems of Tolerance, UAE has appointed 3 ministers with various levels.” 

His Excellency Archbishop Antonius Marcus of the Coptic Orthodox Church, when addressing delegates said, “when we are intolerant we start to destroy each other... we lose more than we gain.” Archbishop Marcus continued; “embracing tolerance in Africa and the rest of the globe will make the world a better place to live” from H.E Archbishop Antonio Marcos at the UAE Year of Tolerance Colloquium Roundtable As Her Excellency Rabbi Julia Margolis cited, “In Hebrew, the word for peace is shalom which is derived from one of the names of God. 

” His Excellency Pujya Brahmavihari Swami through a video presentation to delegates shared that, “peace is not only important within oneself, but it is highly important to act peaceably toward others. Professor Mostafa Bin Miftah who represented the faith of Islam added that if people come together and unite, then there will be no poverty, no war, or hate. Day-two of the Colloquium which was a Round Table saw Keynote Speaker Dr. Ndileka Mandela of the Thembikile Foundation and on behalf of the Lead Like Mandela Leadership Development Programme discussed the 7 pillars of Tolerance as outlined by the United Arab Emirates, which included: 

Tolerance in community The first pillar aims to promote the values of tolerance within family members, and to consolidate them among different cultures.

Tolerance in education This pillar's objective is to solidify teachings behind the values of tolerance within the education systems - across schools and universities - within the country. 

Tolerance at the workplace The third pillar's focus is on creating a safe, tolerant, and cohesive workplace across public and private sector institutions and organisations, via educational programmes highlighting equal opportunities for all.

Tolerance and culture The promotion of cultural tolerance is the main objective. We need to be mindful on putting one culture on a pedestal over others, especially in recent weeks of talks of Xhosa’s carrying the nation. It was cute at first but not anymore. This leads to intolerance down the line as we portray a culture to be more superior to others.

UAE model of tolerance This pillar seeks to solidify the UAE as the global capital for tolerance, via a series of initiatives and projects specialised in tolerance and dialogue between various cultures and civilisations such as the event we are currently attending. 

We need more dialogues like these to further entrench tolerance within society. 

Tolerance in Government Policies and Legislation There needs to be development in policy, legislation and executive regulations guaranteeing the sustainability of values and lessons behind tolerance, dialogue, and cohesion among cultures, including a law on multiculturalism. 

Tolerance in the media Media is one of the most important axes in disseminating tolerance and coexistence values via targeted media campaigns and projects. Speakers on day two of the Colloquium discussed whether South Africa is indeed a tolerant nation and whether intolerance is an African issue. Also discussed was how community leaders and educational institutions contribute towards building a more tolerant society. 

Human Rights lawyer Mr. Julius Galananzhele-Murei, managing director of Galananzhele Sebela Inc. Attorneys who was one of the speakers on day-two of the Colloquium touched on the matter of Tolerance throughout Africa; “the wars that are fought in Africa today are because of intolerance, where intolerance happens and people are not able to peacefully coexist. The problem begins when as Africans, when we start to identify ourselves along our ethnic structure, he said.”


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