The month of November this year has been a much-needed harbinger of peace and tolerance.
The UAE’s Founding Father, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was a firm believer in the values and virtues of peace and coexistence. “Tolerance and forgiveness are a duty,” Sheikh Zayed said and forged the federation on the foundations of love, giving, compassion, and the right to co-exist for people of all faiths and nationalities. As the country celebrated the second day of the National Festival for Tolerance and Human Fraternity yesterday, the world around us seemed to be soaking and reverberating that message loud and clear, with utmost sincerity and goodwill.
The month of November this year has been a much-needed harbinger of peace and tolerance. From the signing of the Riyadh Agreement between the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council to the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor that opened a bridge of peace between uneasy neighbours Pakistan and India to the peaceful resolution of the centuries-old land dispute in Ayodhya, India, some of the world’s long-standing issues are unravelling and inching towards amicable conclusions. A part of the UAE’s Year of Tolerance initiative, the nine-day National Festival for Tolerance that began on Friday under the theme ‘On Zayed’s Approach’ aims to promote the message of coexistence, tolerance, and harmony within society.
Clearly, the strides that the UAE has taken over the years and especially this year have cemented its position as a home of tolerance and coexistence. The positivity of those strides and the enthusiasm of the march for tolerance, however, are no longer confined to the geographical boundaries of the country – they are now beginning to emphatically echo around the world. The UAE’s message of tolerance is fast becoming a global movement. In a world overwhelmed by selfish intentions and narrow-minded motives, the UAE’s Year of Tolerance initiative, guided by Sheikh Zayed’s vision, generosity and open-mindedness, has acted as a beacon of logic in a sea of hysteria, a light of insight in a jungle of ignorance, a sound of reason in a cacophony of delusion.
Two of the UAE’s closest allies and friends, Pakistan and India took a huge leap towards peaceful coexistence by putting their political and diplomatic differences aside to allow Indian Sikhs to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites. Saturday, November 9, 2019, also marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbol of Cold War. The symbolic importance of the day wasn’t lost thirty years later when a turbaned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, India. As Modi flagged off the first jatha (batch) of devotees for crossing the border, he thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for his understanding of the Indian sentiment. On the other side, Khan welcomed the Indian devotees at Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, and said that the road to regional prosperity and a brighter future lay in peace.
Yesterday, India also brought to end the centuries-old land dispute in Ayodhya with all parties in the Ram Janmaboomi-Babri Masjid case accepting the Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict in the case. Litigation for access to the disputed site had been one of the longest-running in the history of India. The verdict will, hopefully, bring closure to the issue that used to magically gain traction during elections, and help India move beyond divisive politics. It should help the world’s largest democracy to once again focus on issues that merit the government’s and the opposition’s attention. As Sheikh Zayed said, “History is a continuous chain of events. The present is only an extension of the past.”
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