Pope Francis and Leading Sunni Imam Advocate Peace at UN Security Council.
Pope Francis and a prominent Sunni imam addressed the United Nations Security Council in New York, emphasizing the significance of “human fraternity” in fostering peace. Despite being in the hospital recovering from abdominal surgery, the pope issued a statement expressing concern about the ongoing conflicts that constitute a “piecemeal” third world war and the lack of “fraternity” among humanity. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, echoed the pope’s sentiments during a virtual briefing, citing the joint document they released in 2019. Both religious leaders highlighted the perilous consequences of warfare, including the catastrophic potential of nuclear and mass destruction weapons. They called for an emphatic rejection of war and an affirmation that only peace can bring justice.
Al-Tayeb specifically mentioned ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, urging an end to these senseless wars. Furthermore, he appealed to the council to recognize an independent Palestinian state after 75 years of struggle. Addressing the war unfolding on the eastern borders of Europe, the grand imam expressed concern about the terror it instills and its potential regression of humanity to a primitive era. Al-Tayeb emphasized the importance of the mission outlined in the 2019 document on human fraternity, urging political leaders to pursue it.
The United Arab Emirates prioritized the theme of human fraternity in its presidency of the council for the month. Following the pope’s and grand imam’s appeals and various council speeches, members unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the role of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, intolerance, gender discrimination, and extremism in fueling conflict. The resolution, co-sponsored by the UAE and the United Kingdom, acknowledges the need to address these issues to prevent the outbreak and escalation of conflicts. Despite allegations of such actions by some council members, the resolution was hailed as a landmark achievement, promoting tolerance, equality, coexistence, and dialogue.
HE Grand Imam of Al-Azhar @alimamaltayeb emphasized the importance of reviving the culture of dialogue between religions and consolidating the principles of peace and peaceful coexistence at the #UAExUNSC signature event.
"We are compelled in the face of these crises to… pic.twitter.com/e3fBdPbayR
— UAE Mission to the UN (@UAEMissionToUN) June 14, 2023
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the joint declaration by the pope and the grand imam, describing it as a model of compassion and human solidarity. He called on countries and individuals worldwide to unite as one human family and establish an alliance of peace rooted in the values of human fraternity.