ABU DHABI 16 June 2017: Members of Christian churches in Abu Dhabi reacted favourably to the renaming of a mosque in the capital in an example of mutual tolerance and peaceful coexistence. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque in Al Mushrif area was renamed to ‘Mariam Umm Eisa’ mosque, which translates from Arabic as ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus’.
The move was ordered by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as a gesture to promote the social connections between the followers of different religions and strengthen the common characteristics between the divine religions.
Speaking to Wam, Rev. Yousuf Farajallah, Pastor of the Evangelical Arab community in Abu Dhabi, said that the gesture reflects the spirit of Christian and Muslim brotherhood, and the principles and values of interfaith coexistence in the UAE. Rev. Farajallah added that the gesture is “unprecedented”, and reflects the eminence and originality of the UAE’s leadership, which is respected by all.
Also expressing his thoughts was Rev. Bishoy Fakhri, Pastor of the Cathedral Church in Abu Dhabi, who said, “The UAE sets a real example of tolerance, which transcends ideas and slogans to become a practical reality and reaching the stage of social harmony.” Rev. Fakhri added that the move is a unique gesture and demonstrates the true image of Islam and of peaceful coexistence.
Rev. Ibrahim Farouk, Patron of the Pope Tawadros Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt in Abu Dhabi, told Wam that the UAE is always leading the world in the field of religious tolerance, brotherhood and peace, strengthened through its laws. “Using the name of ‘Mother Mary’ on this mosque is a gesture of love and peace that we hope will be followed around the world,” he added.
UK Catholic peer praises renaming of the ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus’ mosque
LONDON: The decision by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to rename Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Mosque as the Maryam Umm Issa (Mary, Mother of Jesus) Mosque has been praised by a leading British advocate for religious freedom and tolerance.
“The renaming of the mosque is powerful evidence of the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to the principles of religious tolerance, Lord Alton of Liverpool told the Emirates News Agency, Wam.
A member of Britain’s House of Lords and a founder and former Vice-Chairman of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion of Belief, Lord Alton is a leading Catholic layman in Britain.
“The Virgin Mary is of enormous importance in the beliefs of both Christians and Muslims, while Jesus is, of course, highly respected as a prophet in Islam,” Lord Alton said.
“At a time when enormous intolerance to Christianity and Christians is to be found across much of the Middle East, this decision by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed is particularly welcome,” he said.
By Sheena Amos