New church in Abu Dhabi to be a community centre: Nahyan

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - SYMBOL OF TOLERANCE: Sheikh Nahyan with Rev. Thomas K. Oommen and MA Yusuffali at the ceremony to bless the foundation stone of the new CSI Parish in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Sheikh Nahyan noted that the UAE is a global role model for acceptance and peaceful coexistence.

The first official ceremony to bless the foundation stone of the new facility to be built for the Church of South India (CSI) Parish in Abu Dhabi was held on Friday. The new facility will come up on 4.37 acres of land in Abu Mureikha, where the first Hindu temple is being constructed.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, who attended the ceremony held at St. Andrew's Church, noted the 'special' ceremony reflected the power of tolerance and human fraternity in the UAE.

"This celebration offers all of us a genuine cause for joy. I share your excitement and your hope that the new church will function as a valuable part of your individual lives as well as the collective life of your community. The UAE is a Muslim country and an occasion like this reflects our tolerance and our respect for all faiths. My presence here is an embodiment of one of the core values of the UAE. Ours is a tolerant country that allows people from different places and different religious and ethnic backgrounds to live here in harmony and cooperation. Together, we work for peace, prosperity and the well-being of society. Together, we respect one another and understand each other's good motives, whatever our cultural differences may be."

Sheikh Nahyan noted that the UAE is a global role model for acceptance and peaceful coexistence.

"I encourage you to continue to be bridge-builders, making sure people get to know one another, exchange views, engage in dialogue, and continue to live in harmony and work together for the benefit of all of humanity."

He underlined that both India and the UAE are examples that tolerant societies are more innovative and successful. "Tolerance in both countries makes us natural partners and friends."

He added that the ceremony was 'beginning of something very special'.

"You will have a new church that will serve both as a place of worship and as a community centre for all.  But a building is only stone and mortar. What makes it a community asset is the way you use it. The new church will only come alive with your energy and your vitality. I have no doubt that you will fulfil all your ambitious plans and that the new church will further strengthen the bonds within your entire community."

Businessman and community leader MA Yusuffali offered full support to the project.

"Islam is a religion of love, tolerance, affection, brotherhood and respect for other religions. Islam believes in freedom of religion and worship. This ceremony and our gathering are true examples of this."

The stone laying ceremony will be held in Abu Mureikha on Saturday morning.

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Ashwani Kumar

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