New Charter to bring about peace, religious freedom

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Dr Shawki Allam, Mufti of Egypt, said that the signing of the Charter was a "historic" event.

The Charter, which was inked by the top leaders, is built upon nine principles.

 Religious leaders and scholars declared the 'Charter of the New Alliance of Virtue', dubbing it a historic celebration of diversity and a living document. The leaders from three major religious groups under Abrahamic faiths and others hoped the Charter will find the same level of acceptance which the Marrakesh Declaration of 2016 received from the society at large.

During the sixth annual Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies held in Abu Dhabi, Dr William Vendley, Secretary General Emeritus, Religions for Peace International, the US, introduced the Charter. He said it will be a "life-long labour" for all leaders to implement its principles.

The Charter, which was inked by the top leaders, is built upon nine principles: human dignity, freedom of conscience and religion or belief, tolerance, justice, peace, mercy, kindness, keeping covenants and solidarity.

Dr Shawki Allam, Mufti of Egypt, said that the signing of the Charter was a "historic" event.

"Anything which achieves peace and prosperity in the world is always religiously motivated. Today, humanity needs us to fight collectively for justice. This is important moment in human history," he said.

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop Archdiocese of Abuja, Nigeria, said the Charter was an opportunity to achieve peace and end divisions. "Radical change is needed if we are to survive."

Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs, the UK, felt "liberated" to find the gathering of Muslim and Christian leaders show genuine desire to know about each other. "The Charter reflects development taking place within the society. It reflects something profound that has taken place. We are not here because we have no choice but because we chose to respect one another."

Shaykh Mustafa Ceric, the former grand mufti of Bosnia, said the intention of the Charter was simple: 'peace and security' in the world. "We should memorise this Charter like we do the Hadees and the Bible. We must talk about diversity but remember humanity is one."

'Need for new commitment'

Imam Mohamed Magid, executive Imam of All Dulles Area Muslim Society, the US, said the Charter will help American Muslims to build relationships with fellow countrymen based on the nine principles. He said the new Charter will need a "new commitment" from people to improve and change their neighbourhood. Magid recollected that American Muslims had "celebrated" Marrakesh Declaration as it was widely accepted and hoped the Charter will find the same open-minded acknowledgement.

Dr Mohamed Elsanousi, director of the Secretariat of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, the US, is he was "very hopeful" about the Charter as it is an "inclusive" one. "The path for the Marrakesh Declaration of 2016 wasn't easy but it built the foundation for the New Alliance of Virtue. The world faces many issues, like violence, poverty, lack of education and lack of religious freedom. We see the New Alliance of Virtue as a document to help contribute to resolve these problems."

Dr Kent Hill, executive director, Religious Freedom Institute, the US, said the Charter should be part of everyday life. "Unless we do not embody the principles of the Charter in the curricula and social media, it will just gather dust. We have to transform words into changed reality."

Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, a Sikh leader and chairman Nishkam Group of Charitable Organisations, said: "This Charter will pave way for religious solidarity and peace building, and also act as catalyst for global interreligious movement."

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Ashwani Kumar

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