Introduction of Judge Mohamed Adbelsalam Abdellatif
Peace, mercy and blessings of God,
I am pleased to reaffirm on behalf of the High Committee of Human Fraternity the importance of this conference that highlights a very relevant dimension in the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.
His Holiness, Pope Francis, together with the Great Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, have been pioneers of the need to adopt a renewed concept of human fraternity, having set an operational model for the followers of religions with accuracy.
I remember the scene of Pope Francis and Imam Al-Tayyeb sharing a piece of bread at the Pope's table at Casa Santa Marta. How can I not forget the moments that were inspired by them until the idea of the Document on Human Fraternity, the world welcomed with great satisfaction. Today's world - truly wounded - needs to share bread to become more peaceful and more secure. I would like to thank the Community of Sant'Egidio, that has continued on the path of good since the Assisi meeting in 1986 until the Encyclical "Fratelli tutti", whose presentation I was honoured to attend. This Encyclical sincerely will give these meetings greater inspiration according to the spirit of the meeting in Assisi.
Allow me, honoured participants, to read to you the message of the Great Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Great Sheykh of Al-Azhar, who was unable to attend this event in person.
Message of His Excellency the Great Imam Ahmad al-Tayyeb, Sheykh of Al-Azhar
Dear Brother, Pope Francis, Pope of the Catholic Church
Mr Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic,
Professor Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio,
Dear friend Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople
the world has been living a terrifying nightmare for almost a year due to the Coronavirus epidemic. Not even one state has escaped its repercussions, no people has escaped, no economy has been saved from its devastating effects, and how much heavier are the wounds of the heart. What aggravates the painful reality is the sight of these millions of refugees, displaced persons, homeless and victims in conflict zones. This epidemic has worsened their terrible conditions in the absence of the necessary health care. Similarly, entire peoples have been unable to cope with the epidemic.
Despite all these risks posed by the Coronavirus, there is another ancient epidemic that is being renewed, which we thought would disappear in the face of a danger that threatens the whole of humanity. It is the epidemic of discrimination and racism, a disease that affects and erodes human consciousness. But instead of observing its disappearance, we were shocked to see new forms of discrimination because of the Coronavirus, to the point that we heard appeals to abandon some groups of people to their fate, to offer treatment primarily to another group of people. We heard voices calling for testing the vaccine only on a certain group of people. The voices only attest the inhumanity on the part of those who pronounce them.
Today, we expect with the whole world scientific efforts are crowned with success in the search for a drug that may save us from this nightmare that is about to complete one year.
I would like to reaffirm that the cure for human hatred and racism is the one that springs from the heart of the bitter experiences we have lived through and that proves the one who is endowed with a living consciousness. This antidote is human brotherhood, fraternity in which I see a solid immunity capable of facing intellectual and moral epidemics.
The concept of human brotherhood does not mean that we are content to accept the other, but rather that we fight for his good and safety, we refuse to discriminate against him because of any difference, and that we spare no effort in spreading these high principles among people.
the new world order promoted the concept of globalisation and promised us that it would bring to the whole world the values of freedom, justice and equality. Values that are truly wonderful. However, we soon discovered unfortunately that these noble values brought to humanity inhuman exploitation with the exclusion of the different, the imposition of a single model, the elimination of identities, the claim of the right to the tutelage of peoples, the claim of the existence of a single cultural model suitable for humanity, while different models would become a relic of history. Globalisation has thus fallen into the misunderstanding and contradiction between the proclamation and reality, bringing even more evil fallout than in darker times. We have seen these values fall when the world preferred to ignore entire peoples forced into exodus, victims of killings and starvation as in the case of the Rohingya who were abandoned to their fate.
The advent of the Coronavirus announced to the world the death of globalisation that had divided the world, separated human beings, removed moral and values, marginalising religion. Today the time has come for us to adopt a new globalisation, based on human fraternity, which promotes the equality of all human beings in terms of rights and duties. New globalisation which roots social coexistence and is committed to respect for religious and cultural specificities and identities. A new globalisation that stops the arms race and redirects the hundreds and thousands of billions spent on weapons towards education, health care and scientific research. Then, and only then, we will be able to face disasters and epidemics and be stronger in the face of various crises.
In face of this suffocating crisis we have, as scholars and religious people belonging to different religions, the important role of making people return to religion and its authentic real message that raises human values, which have been marginalised, abused and often accused of being the cause of terrorism and extremism and after atheism.
Let me comment here on the horrendous murder in Paris. In my capacity as a muslim,
Sheikh of al-Azhar I declare before the Almighty God that I dissociate myself and the precepts of Islamic religion and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad - on him be peace and God's blessing - from this sinful criminal act and from all those who pursue this perverse and false ideology. At the same time I confirm that insulting religion and abusing sacred symbols under the slogan of freedom of expression represents a form of intellectual ambiguity and an explicit appeal to immorality. This terrorist and his people do not represent the religion of Mohammed - on him peace and blessing of God - just as the New Zealand terrorist who killed the Muslims in the mosque does not represent the religion of Jesus, peace be upon him.
Let me finally express my esteem for Pope Francis, my friend, Pope of the Catholic Church, for his important encyclical “Fratelli tutti", that will help lovers of good and peace to form a complete notion about the sufferings of "Human Fraternity" and the expectations in achieving it.
I thank the friends of Sant'Egidio for having organised this exceptional and important meeting.
Let us heal together the wounds of humanity, let us rediscover the values of mercy, justice and tolerance! Let us bring back to people the smile torn by wars and conflicts! Maybe these dreams are ambitious, but their realisation is not difficult for the Most High if we believe in Him and in human fraternity, to which we have been called and we need to sow it in the souls of our societies and future generations.
Thank you very much.
May God's peace, His mercy and blessings be upon you.