News Release

Church Leader Participates in International Day of Human Fraternity Celebrations in Abu Dhabi

During the first week of February, a series of events organized by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, the Muslim Council of Elders and the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity celebrated the International Day of Human Fraternity, which is observed internationally on February 4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has participated in these special events to support UAE efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and the universal values of human fraternity.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, shared the following statement: “Solidarity and understanding are essential for achieving peaceful coexistence throughout the world. On this International Day of Human Fraternity, we pray that our shared human values will guide us towards lasting peace and stability for all.”

On Monday, February 5, 2024, Elder Roland J. Bäck, Second Counselor in the Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency, represented the Church at the Human Fraternity Majlis at the Abrahamic Family House. This event, marking the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, was a gathering of religious leaders, scholars and community members to discuss and promote the values of peace, coexistence and solidarity among all people.

“With the increasing interconnectivity of the world, there is an urgent need to embrace the spirit of humanity, collective action, solidarity, dialogue and the appreciation of similarities and differences among diverse cultures and beliefs,” His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism and President of the Abrahamic Family House, said during the opening of the Human Fraternity Majlis.

On Tuesday, February 6, Elder Bäck attended the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity ceremony at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi. The award, recognizing significant contributions to human fraternity, was presented to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding efforts in promoting peace and coexistence. This year’s honorees — world-renowned cardiac surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub; Sister Nelly León Correa, president and cofounder of Fundación Mujer Levántate (Woman Standing Up Foundation); and Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organizations — were celebrated for their dedication to bridging divides and fostering mutual understanding across communities.

Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, chair of the Nahdlatul Ulama Central Board, recently met with the Church’s First Presidency in Salt Lake City, Utah. Over the past five years, the Church and Nahdlatul Ulama have worked together on several humanitarian projects, including prosthetic leg distribution in Cianjur (2023) and aid for earthquake victims in Pandeglang (2020), Donggala, Lombok and Palu (2018).

Additionally, on Wednesday, February 7, a delegation from the Church attended the Global Tolerance and Human Fraternity Summit, which included presentations by dignitaries and opportunities for meaningful engagement among organizations and individuals involved in intercultural and interreligious efforts.

Thinking about his experience during these celebrations, Elder Bäck shared the following: “As I reflect on these events and the messages which I was able to hear, it’s even more clear than ever that in the globalized world we live in, we have to make some additional steps on the path of peace which recognize our common humanity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that respect for differences and dialogue are necessary for interfaith harmony and coexistence. As a resident of Abu Dhabi, I feel blessed to experience these values in this wonderful community of like-minded people.”

Earlier this year, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recorded a video message dedicated to World Interfaith Harmony Week. The video emphasized the importance of building bridges between representatives of different faith traditions. It also highlighted the Church’s dedication to promoting understanding and respect across religious traditions.

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