If believers walk the talk, peace will prevail in region, bishop says.
Summary: Bishop Gregorius of the Greek Orthodox Church says coexistence of churches and temples prove UAE walking the talk on tolerance
Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News Binsal Abdul Kader, Senior Reporter
If believers of all faiths walk the talk as the UAE does, peace will prevail in the volatile region, a Bishop said on Monday.
"Believers of all prominent religions in the region greet each other with words of peace. Muslims and Christians say As-Salaam-Alaikum [the Arabic greeting meaning 'Peace be upon you'] and Jews greet 'Shalom' [peace]; if they practice it in their life, this volatile region will embrace peace," said Bishop Gregorius of the Greek Orthodox Church in the UAE.
He was speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the conference of tolerance, moderation and dialogue in countering extremism, organised by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The bishop said believers should follow the example of the UAE, which always walks its talk about tolerance. "The presence of churches of various denominations and Hindu temples are a testimony of the UAE walking the talk on tolerance. They practise what they preach," said the bishop who is the head of four churches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah with around 9,000 worshippers who are mainly from Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
"The parishes of the Greek Orthodox Church had peacefully existed even before the establishment of the UAE. The first church was established in 1980. This shows the long history of tolerance and peaceful coexistence of religions in the UAE," said the bishop who was a speaker at the conference. A Syrian, he moved to Abu Dhabi as bishop three years ago.
The organisers told Gulf News that the conference would share the UAE's experience of maintaining tolerance and peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. "We would like to put forward this experience as a model for others," said Major General Naser Al Raisi, Inspector-General at the MoI.
Lt. Colonel Dr Mansoor Hassan Al Beloushi at the MoI, who is also the chairman of the conference committee, said the conference looks comprehensively into the issues of tolerance and extremism. Therefore, all related concerns will be addressed with concrete solutions.
He said hatemongering on social media was a major concern. "Using social media is very easy. But being aware of its importance and risks involved is crucial," Al Beloushi said, adding that experts attending the conference will suggest concrete measures in this regard.
Wasim Yousuf, a radio presenter and Islamic scholar, said tolerance is part of Islamic traditions. "We strictly follow Islamic teachings that encourage to respect all other religions," he said on the sidelines of the conference.
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