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Jan 29 19, 4:45 am

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WATCH: Coptic clergy reflect on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to UAE

by | News, TOP STORIES

Jan. 29, 19 | 4:45 am

Clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) say they feel at home in a country that is characterized by religious tolerance, human fraternity and co-existence, compared with the violence and conflict seen elsewhere in the current global climate.

The Egypt-based Coptic Church has eight churches in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

Reflecting on the upcoming visit by Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church to Abu Dhabi, the first-ever such visit to the Arabian Peninsula, Father Abram Farouk, a priest at St. Anthony’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, said, “When we speak of tolerance and fraternity, care and brotherhood, it is very natural that the UAE takes on this initiative and hosts global religious leaders during this unprecedented historical and global event.”

Commenting on the Human Fraternity Meeting due to be held during the visit by Pope Francis, which will also be attended by Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Father Abram said that the event will highlight the concept of tolerance and coexistence practiced in the Emirates. “The UAE is jubilant that such an important conference is taking place on its land, undertaking all necessary steps to be prepared to the highest of standards,” he continued, adding that this leads to a natural development of tolerance among people.

The first Coptic church in Abu Dhabi was established in 1984, with St Anthony’s Cathedral being inaugurated in 2007. Over 3,000 people regularly attend mass there.

A fellow clergyman, Father Antonios Mikael, noted the decision by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to declare 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’ was of “intrinsic value”.

“It indicates the true privilege [we have] of living together in harmony, and loving one another [here in the UAE]. This is already a message [to the world].”

Father Antonios said that the timing of Pope Francis’s historic visit to the UAE, coinciding with that of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, will have an enormous impact on local and global communities. “When individuals see global religious leaders coming together, and how the UAE is pioneering such a unique initiative, it is needed by us all, especially as we live in the current global climate, where there are many conflicts,” he said.

Father Bishoy Fakhri, also a priest at St. Anthony’s, described the UAE as “a beacon that sheds light on peace and tolerance.”

“Holding summits like this as a message to the public, and that religions – whether Islam, Christianity or Judaism – should love one another and live together peacefully,” he said.

Father Bishoy added that “the UAE has always highlighted that the fundamental concept behind religion is tolerance.”

The visit by Pope Francis, he said, “is a message of growth and peace to the world, and that peace will overcome hate.”

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It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

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