An Important Initiative to Promote the Culture of Peace and Coexistence

  • 4 July 2015

The International Peace Caravans campaign launched by Muslim Council of Elders, under the chairmanship of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, to promote the culture of peace is of high significance. The campaign will extend to countries witnessing sectarian conflict or those who have had their citizens joining terrorist groups. The campaign is significant not only because it comes at a critical juncture, when several Arab and Muslim countries are witnessing terrorist attacks, spreading extremism and violence and disrupting peace and stability, but also because it is aimed at easing religious conflict, enhancing peace and promoting the true essence of Islam. The campaign will also strengthen tolerance and co-existence between Muslims and followers of other faiths, and encourage positive integration of Muslim youth in their societies.

Arab and Muslim societies today need a strategy to counter extremist ideologies, expose their misleading slogans which have nothing to do with Islam, and promote the culture of co-existence. This can only be achieved through practical steps on the ground. This is also the real goal of the International Peace Caravan, which has visited several countries including France, Central African Republic, and Italy, and will soon be visiting Germany, United States and Kazakhstan. These visits are aimed at highlighting Islam’s values of tolerance and co-existence with other religion and cultures, and countering misconceptions spread by extremist groups among the youth. This way they are contributing toward the promotion of a culture of peace in various societies.

The Muslim Council of Elders was established last year following a recommendation made at the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which was hosted by the UAE in March 2014. The Council’s International Peace Caravan initiative is in sync with the vital role played by the UAE in cultural and intellectual struggle against extremism and terrorism. It tries to counter those promoting violence and those who present a distorted image of Islam, thereby causing harm to Muslims around the world. The UAE’s role becomes extremely important because it is making sustained efforts in this direction with several of its entities contributing towards it.

These efforts include the Muslim Council of Elders, which consists of respected moderate figures in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah), which coordinates efforts with local, regional and international organizations to build capabilities and develop programs for combating violent extremism. There are also the Ramadan events and lectures, where scholars hosted by His Highness the UAE President, present the true image of Islam and promotes its positive principles and values in order to strengthen security, stability and development in Arab and Muslim societies.

All this is part of the UAE’s approach of promoting the values of moderation, tolerance, dialogue, and co-existence among people within the Muslim world, especially in light of the difficult conditions prevailing in the Arab region. These circumstances threaten the concept of co-existence among its population due to religious, ethnic, and sectarian conflicts, which are fuelled by malicious groups and ideologies far away from the true meaning and peaceful message of religion.