Step up global efforts to counter intolerance - GulfToday

Step up global efforts to counter intolerance

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The UN General-Assembly declared May 16 the International Day of Living Together in Peace.

In a world that is increasingly witnessing divisions between nations and peoples and an unbridled spike in hate speech and hate crimes, not many may have realised that Thursday had been earmarked as the International Day of Living Together in Peace by the United Nations.

The UN General-Assembly, in its resolution 72/130, declared May 16 the International Day of Living Together in Peace as a means of regularly mobilising the efforts of the international community to promote peace, tolerance, inclusion, understanding and solidarity.

The idea is to uphold the desire to live and act together, united in differences and diversity, in order to build a sustainable world of peace, solidarity and harmony.

But going by the ground realities, much more needs to be done by the international community to help build bridges, foster inclusivity and counter hate speech to enhance the protection of religious minorities, refugees and migrants.

Compounding the worry is the fact that in many countries, ultra-nationalist parties are emerging as a challenge to multilateralism and liberal democracies undermining the very principles that these institutions are built on.

Social media has aggravated the situation by facilitating the spread of hate speech like wild fire.

The UAE, fortunately, has provided a global model of tolerance and proved that a perfectly harmonious society is possible. The country has successfully demonstrated that tolerance and peaceful coexistence are the best antidotes to a world filled with xenophobia and quest to build separation walls.

The declaration of 2019 as the “Year of Tolerance’” by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a continuation of the leadership’s consistent approach in implanting precious values in the society.

Hosting some 200 nationalities and letting them live and work in incredible harmony is an accomplishment that most other nations could only dream of. Every individual in the UAE would vouch for the fact that this is the safest, progressive and most harmonious society.

Various grand mosques, churches, temples and gurdwaras offer irrefutable evidence of how the nation promotes adorable values of unity.

The UAE established the Ministry of Tolerance and created a national tolerance programme, which is based on the teachings of Islam, the UAE constitution, Founding Father Sheikh Zayed’s vision and common human values.

It launched the International Institute for Tolerance Institute, the UAE Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence Association, and a centre for training government employees on the culture of tolerance.

Countering extremism in an era of technology is no easy task. Organisations like the International Institute for Tolerance, Hedayah Centre and Sawab Centre have been set up to tackle such activities, and have been doing a tremendous job.

Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE’s Minister of Tolerance, elucidated recently, “Tolerance is like oxygen and the people of the UAE are the trees helping equally to produce the oxygen of tolerance. The greater the participation of the country’s people in promoting tolerance, the more harmonious, peaceful and prosperous the country will be.”

Nations looking for a model to promote peace, tolerance and happiness need to merely take a leaf out of UAE’s book.

Prejudice and bigotry surely have no place in a sane society. As Martin Luther King stated: “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

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