Arab League chief: Combat hate by teaching children inclusivity

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. (AP)
Updated 04 February 2019
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Arab League chief: Combat hate by teaching children inclusivity

  • Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit spoke during the Human Fraternity Conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday
  • The conference marked the start of the UAE’s “Year of Tolerance” celebration

ABU DHABI: The growing level of intolerance in the world needs to be combatted by teaching children to be more inclusive, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Sunday.

Speaking at the Human Fraternity Conference in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, Aboul Gheit said the conference was happening “in the right place at the right time.”

He added: “There is no more important value today than tolerance, as sectarianism and racism rear their ugly heads all over the world.”

Extremism and hatred are expressed mostly through religion and politics, resulting in wars that have “nothing to do with religion,” he said.

Aboul Gheit suggested introducing the concept of tolerance in school curriculums. “We must grow up learning about and from other religions and faiths to raise our understanding,” he said.

The Human Fraternity Conference marks the start of the UAE’s “Year of Tolerance,” which is aimed at promoting dialogue between nations and faiths.

The visit by Pope Francis, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, is the first by a pontiff in the Arabian Peninsula.

In his opening remarks, Emirati Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan said the pope’s involvement in the conference was a true reflection of the “power of tolerance and human fraternity.”

Al-Nayhan added: “It is my aspiration that this conference and its outcomes will be known as a landmark event improving global relations.” 

The pope and Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmad El-Tayeb “are global forces for compassion and peace,” said Al-Nahyan. 

“Their participation in this conference speaks eloquently on the power of tolerance and human fraternity.”

He said the conference was a multicultural event that encouraged compassion, respect and understanding among different communities, cultures and religions.

“The gathering enables us to counter extremism, prejudice, hate, aggression, greed and oppression that violate the very idea of human fraternity,” he added.

It is necessary to combat “the destructive forces of extremism, terrorism, poverty, degradation of women, environmental abuse, illiteracy and prejudice,” Al-Nahyan said.

Speaking at a press conference later, Dr. Sultan Faisal Al-Remeithi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Elders, said the event included more than 10 religious sects.

“It (the conference) carries a real message about peace in the world by introducing a concept that all of us are keen to implement,” he said.

The pope’s visit falls under the UAE’s strategy of being a country that hosts 200 nationalities and a multitude of faiths and beliefs, Al-Remeithi added.


France urged to suspend boat delivery to Libya over migrant concerns

Updated 25 April 2019
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France urged to suspend boat delivery to Libya over migrant concerns

  • The demand was laid out in a legal challenge that was filed at the administrative court in Paris on Thursday morning

PARIS: Eight international NGOs including Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded on Thursday that France suspend the delivery of boats to Libya’s coast guard on concerns they would be used to intercept migrants.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly had in February agreed to donate six boats to the Libyan navy, under which the coast guard operates, in a move she said was aimed at helping them “in the fight against illegal immigration.”

But the offer angered rights groups who said they would be used to block migrant boats seeking to reach Europe, forcing those on board to return to war-torn Libya.

The demand was laid out in a legal challenge that was filed at the administrative court in Paris on Thursday morning.

In it, the groups demand “the suspension of the decision” until the court decides whether or not the donation is legal. The court has 48 hours to make a decision.

The NGOs believe forcing people to return to Libya would expose them to “serious human rights violations.” Massimo Moratti, regional director for research at Amnesty International, said the pledge to deliver boats to the Libyan coast guard was “an unlawful and reckless decision.”

He said it was all the more dangerous at a time when fighting has intensified after Eastern commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on the capital Tripoli earlier this month.

“Doing it now, as the armed conflict in Libya escalates, is even more callous and irresponsible,” Moratti said in a statement, warning the donation would make France “complicit” in trapping people inside the country.

The NGOs accused the coast guard of having a bad track record in respecting those in distress at sea, saying it should not be given the logistical means to step up such abuses.

The statement accused the coast guard of abuses including pushing those in distress back into the water, threatening them with weapons and firing toward them.

The six vessels, which are to be delivered in the coming weeks, are 12-meter, semi-rigid boats made by French specialist Sillinger.

Besides Amnesty and MSF, the legal petition was joined by France’s Human Rights League, immigrant support group GISTI, Lawyers Without Borders, migrant aid groups La Cimade and Migreurop and Italian research and aid group ASGI.