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Second Day Sessions: Human Fraternity Conference at Trends Research and Advisory Fruitful discussions about challenges and prospects.

07 Feb 2024

Second Day Sessions: Human Fraternity Conference at Trends Research and Advisory Fruitful discussions about challenges and prospects.

07 Feb 2024

The conference on “Islam and Human Fraternity” continued its proceedings on its second day. The conference is organized by Trends Research and Advisory in partnership with the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence and the University Platform for the Study of Islam “PLURIEL”. The conference addresses important issues, including the geopolitical challenges of the document of human fraternity, the problem of understanding it, and its relevance to minority rights.

The first session was entitled “The Document on Human Fraternity: An Islamic Vision for Global Coexistence and the Protection of Human Dignity”, Dr. Muhammad Al-Bashari, Secretary-General of the World Council of Muslim Communities, said that the document carried ideas that do not need further reflection or theorization. It covered the most important global issues, including the need for humanity to follow the path of prosperity, stability and peace.  Therefore, there is a focus on researchers and thinkers to transfer these ideas into tangible work.

Imam Mohammed Tawhidi, Vice President of the International Islamic Council of Religious Scholars, thanked the UAE’s efforts to spread peace in the region and beyond. He said that there are many points in common between the three monotheistic religions, which are the first pillar of peace, human fraternity and coexistence.

Emmanuel Pisani, Director of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies (IDEO), in Cairo and France, spoke about the close relationship between Islam and Christianity and the role of clerics in achieving brotherly relationship between Muslims and Christians, and rejecting extremist ideas. He explained that the efforts of the institution in which he works, especially its Cairo branch, focus on training young people and instilling the sense of coexistence among all, which is approved by the teachings of Christianity and Jesus Christ.

The second day of the conference began with the opening of the academic conference. Father Diego Sarrió Cucarella, Dean of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome, stressed that the Document on Human Fraternity gives rise to hope in the context of a world dominated by uncertainty, fear of the future and short-sighted economic interests. The main driving force of the document, which was not always given enough attention, was hope. There is “deep hope for a brighter future for all human beings”.

Flavia Cortellesi, from the University of Insubria, discussed some of the challenges facing the “Document on Human Fraternity.” She said that the Document promotes interfaith dialogue, with a focus on women’s rights, child protection, and political freedoms. She indicated that religious authorities play a role in achieving these goals through tools, such as the mechanism of dialogue and development, international cooperation, regional cooperation, stability and human development projects, in which clerics can play a key role.

Stephen Scalet, an expert at Trends Research and Advisory, said that interfaith dialogue can reduce global conflicts. He highlighted areas in which interfaith dialogue can deliver an effective role, such as reassessing geopolitical alliances, expanding economic cooperation, and creating larger economic and cultural ties for interfaith dialogue within a globally interconnected framework of cooperation, and confronting climate change.

Smaine Djelle, from the University of Algiers 3,  said that any comparative analysis of the “Document on Human Fraternity” with “approaches to international relations and conflict resolution” shows its effectiveness in giving an important role to religion in international affairs. He said that the document contains distinct principles, such as brotherhood, tolerance and the faith motivation for brotherly relations, resolving conflicts, achieving justice and educating people on the principles of fraternity.

Antonio Angelucci, from the University of Insobria, Como, Italy, explained that religious institutions can be more involved in sustainable development, human rights, countering the effects of environmental change, fighting corruption, and the impact of all this on human fraternity and related topics.

Dirk Ansorge, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology in Sankt Jörgen, Frankfurt, Germany, compared frameworks and approaches to protecting places of worship in secular law and religious traditions, in light of the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Human Fraternity. He suggested some legal frameworks that can ensure free and vibrant religious practices, while preventing the political exploitation of places of worship.

Researcher Mohammed Al-Dhahuri at Trends Research and Advisory explained that the Human Fraternity Document reflects the UAE’s approach to promoting cooperation and coexistence among humanity, and is linked to the country’s vision for the development future. He indicated that the document urges reconciliation and brotherhood among all believers in religions and promotes the values of engagement, cooperation and coexistence.

Myriam Di Marco, Professor at the Faculty of Theology, Lugano, Italy, stated that the Document on Human Fraternity is characterized by the spirit of reconciliation reflected in the subsequent Abraham Accords. She said that the two initiatives reflect the need to build a common future, in which religion plays an important role, especially in the Middle East.

The discussions resumed after a short break on the issue of understanding human fraternity. Michaela Neulinger, from the Institute of Systematic Theology, University of Innsbruck, Austria, said that the disputed issue of women’s dignity and rights in interfaith relations, especially in Christian-Muslim dialogue, is complex, noting that the Document on Human Fraternity has given space for women’s rights.

Amin Elias, from the Antonine University in Lebanon, said the term “Fraternity” is found in the Quran. Al-Azhar seeks to update the idea of fraternity and link it to freedom of conscience, citizenship and human rights, stressing that this approach and those documents promote brotherhood due to its universal value.

Dr. Wael Saleh, an expert at Trends Research and Advisory, presented an extensive working paper. He said that “the types of religiosity in the name of Islam and Christianity emphasize the need for dialogue to be based on foundations other than religion.” He proposed a dialogue between ethical-anthological visions, as an alternative or complement to dialogue between religions and cultures. Dr. Wael Saleh concluded that from the above comes the legitimacy of the necessity of a new proposal, such as dialogue between ethical-anthology and epistemological visions.

Trends researchers Sultan Al-Ali and Hamad Al-Hosani, explained how the Human Fraternity Document states that “pluralism and differences in religion, color, sex, race and language are wisdom for a divine will, on which God created human beings, and made it a fixed asset from which the rights of freedom of belief and freedom of difference emerged. The criminalization of coercing people into a specific religion or culture, or imposing a civilized style shall not be accepted by the other.”

Jaume Flaquer, from the Faculty of Theology, Universidad Loyoal, Granada, Spain, presented the results of 30 interviews through a questionnaire about the document, its impact on societies and its assessment. The results covered the degree of the Document impact on reality. Although some answers were expected, the research also provided some interesting data.

Ali Mustafa from the Catholic University of Lyon, France, spoke about social coexistence in the family context in Cameroon, noting that the two sides are involved in building a shared community and in preserving their own identities. His statement shed light on how religious conversions, differences in beliefs and practices and interfaith marriage are dealt with in the Cameroonian family context through the two cases which he studied.

Alessandro Ferrari, University of Inseparable Studies in Como, Italy, said that the idea of a “religious minority” is an obstacle to citizenship and pluralism, and the Document on Human Fraternity and its principles can be the solution to that dilemma.

Youssef Boutaher, from the École Normale Supérieure de Éture, France/University of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Morocco, argued that the legal framework for equal or full citizenship as stated in both declarations cannot be implemented without a certain degree of state acceptance of religious diversity.

Ardwan Mustafa Ismail of Salihuddin University said that the human bond, which Islam explicitly recognizes, requires cooperation, real connection and dialogue between these religious brothers. In his view, fraternity is meaningless without such cooperation. For its part, Christianity is also seen to promote human fraternity and living together in one homeland, based on human dignity, freedom, acceptance of others, love and equality.

Nada Amin, University of Lumière Lyon 2 in France, highlighted the complexities of the religious situation in Egypt, which, according to her, requires greater and deeper coordination between the legal and constitutional texts of the state.

Helene Rey, from the School of Arts and Humanities at King’s College London, UK, explained in a presentation entitled “Reimagining the Rights of Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Iraq” The feminist approach and the postcolonial school is that traditional approaches to ethnic and religious diversity in the Middle East help persist rather than solve problems. He suggested applying feminist and postcolonial studies approaches in this area. Those approaches that are often overlooked in discussions about minority rights.

The intervention also called for a multidisciplinary approach that values diversity, promotes common belonging, rejects exclusion, stresses the need to challenge structures and approaches that perpetuate marginalization. It is necessary to recognizes the rights and effectiveness of all individuals and groups within society, based on research on constitutional law and minority rights, as well as field experience in countries such as Syria and Iraq..

Virgili Thommaso, from the University of Mercatorum in Italy, explained that the document on human fraternity emphasizes the importance of freedom of belief and full citizenship based on equality, and the rejection of discrimination against minorities.

Zahra Azid Zmirli, University of Paris, France, spoke about “full citizenship”, stressing the importance of replacing the term “minorities” and related terminology and adopting the term citizenship and the principles associated with it.

The work of the Conference will resume tomorrow with the discussions of the closing sessions and the announcement of the recommendations and the closing communique of the Conference.