The Vatican and Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and university signed yesterday a document on fighting extremism.
The document was signed in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, during the historic visit of Pope Francis to the Arabian Peninsula, Al Arabiya TV reported.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis yesterday called for an end to wars in the Middle East during the first visit by the head of the Catholic Church to the birthplace of Islam, the Arabian Peninsula.
Francis, who has made outreach to Muslim communities a cornerstone of his papacy, is on an historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.
He is scheduled to hold an open-air mass today for 135,000 of the Muslim country’s million Catholic residents, set to be the largest ever public gathering in the Gulf state.
Yesterday, the Pope held talks in Abu Dhabi with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s prestigious seat of learning before delivering an address at an interfaith meeting.
In his address, the pontiff pushed the need for justice, equality of citizens’ rights and an end to all wars, including in Yemen. The United Arab Emirates and neighbouring Saudi Arabia are key allies of the Yemeni government, which is locked in a war against Iran-backed rebels that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
The pope said all religious leaders had a “duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word war”.
“I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he said at the interfaith meeting attended by Sheikh Ahmed and UAE leaders.
Yemen is the scene of what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, triggered by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in a war between the government and Huthi rebels.