The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, stressed the importance of the role played by religious leaders, symbols, and institutions in promoting harmony between individual and public rights within societies and states, and in emphasizing the importance of dialogue between different regions and cultures on inclusive citizenship and freedom of religion and belief.
In his speech at the ‘Euro-MENA Dialogue on Inclusive Citizenship and Freedom of Religion and Belief: Bridging and Advancing the two agendas’, which was held in cooperation with the British and Italian Foreign Ministries and a number of institutions in the field of interfaith dialogue and representatives of different religions, the Secretary-General said that the Muslim Council of Elders is working to ensure these rights and to emphasize the role of religious leaders in addressing global challenges, including the right to a steady climate, through addressing the effects of climate change and raising awareness of its effects. The participation of the Council in the upcoming COP28 summit in Dubai, which will be preceded by a summit for religious leaders also represents a new stage in strengthening the presence of religious and moral discourse in addressing climate change, both intellectually and institutionally.
Judge Abdelsalam added that the hope is to be able to work in a similar way on all other issues of human rights, including the agenda of inclusive citizenship and freedom of religion and belief, which are rooted in religions, and to work through partnership and cooperation formulas in a way that reconciles the convictions of conscience with the requirements of citizenship, with all its rights and duties. This is a hope that drives everyone to continue working and cooperating with all wills and institutions, he stressed.
The Secretary-General further explained that this meeting reflects a cultural awareness and institutional will to reconcile the goals of inclusive citizenship and freedom of religion and belief. In a region of important global cultural communication that brings together Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, the three shores of the Mediterranean, which has represented the descent of the heavenly messages, the cradle of human philosophies throughout history, and a promising horizon for interaction and cooperation. He also noted that despite the positive indicators of the growth of awareness of them, the reconciliation between them still faces a double challenge, which is represented in preconceived stereotypes, and the extent to which religions and different cultures contribute to the establishment of human dignity, fraternity, and coexistence within the framework of full citizenship relationships, which is what the Muslim Council of Elders is working towards. This, he noted, is also stipulated in the Document of Human Fraternity, which was co-signed by His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, and His Holiness Pope Francis, Pope of the Catholic Church, in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
Additionally, the Secretary-General called for the need to work to invest the potential of religions and the ability of their symbols in order to influence the consolidation of that integrated system of freedoms and public rights, since no components can succeed or be consolidated in legislation and social practice without the other, especially since it needs to deal with cultural, geographical, and identity elements that need moral and symbolic legitimacy to overcome them.