ABU DHABI, 7th January, 2018 (WAM) — During his attendance at a Christmas service at St Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abu Dhabi last night, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, expressed his regret that the celebration, which should come at a time of “joy and happiness”, had been clouded by the terrorist attack on the Coptic Marmina church in Cairo at the end of last month.
In a speech to congregants at the service, Sheikh Nahyan said, “We wished that we would celebrate in a framework of joy and happiness as we are accustomed to in the holiday season and religious events, but I regret very much that our celebration tonight coincides with the horrific and abhorrent terrorist incidents that hit the Church of Marmina in Cairo.” He went on to express his sincere condolences to the Egyptian people for the loss of “martyrs and innocent victims to brutal terrorism.”
“This celebration is a good occasion on which to fully and firmly reaffirm our commitment and strong support to work together to defeat terrorism in all its forms, to spread the values of religious tolerance, to deepen the bonds of love and understanding between followers of different faiths and to promote our values which are cherished in Egypt and in the UAE, and to prevent extremism, hatred and terrorism,” he added.
The event was also attended by Dr. Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Wael Al Sayed Gad, Egyptian Ambassador to the UAE, Father Abram Farouk, a priest at the cathedral, members of the Coptic Christian community, a number of Muslim scholars and members of the UAE’s Egyptian community.
Sheikh Nahyan continued, “My presence with you tonight, brothers and sisters, is an honest expression of our love in the UAE for the brotherly people of Egypt and our keenness that our relations together be a leading model in successful brotherly relations by all standards.”
Concluding his remarks, the Minister expressed his desire that God may bestow safety and peace on mankind and his hope that friendly and positive relations between the followers of religions can be strengthened, as a basis for communication and coexistence among all human beings.
He went on to express his great appreciation of the Coptic Church and its history and of the important role it plays as a prestigious spiritual and national beacon both inside and outside Egypt.
Father Abram Farouk, on behalf of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, expressed his thanks and gratitude to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and to Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, as well as to the UAE Government and people for their tolerant approach to the Coptic community and to all members of the Christian and other religious communities.
He added that the UAE is a role model for religious tolerance and embodies the values and principles of peaceful inter-faith coexistence.