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UAE a model of an inclusive society, Karzai says

Abu Dhabi: Hamid Karzai, former president of Afghanistan, praised the UAE as a model of an inclusive society and a source of inspiration for its guiding principles of tolerance and innovation.

Karzai told Gulf News late on Monday that he was appreciative of the role played by the UAE in Afghanistan, conveying his gratitude to the people and government, for being a steadfast supporter of Afghanistan in the past 14 years.

“UAE, as a fellow Muslim country with a deep bond of affinity with Afghanistan, has been supporting the cause of peace, security and development alongside the international community. UAE’s assistance in building homes, roads, schools, hospitals and mosques is deeply appreciated by the Afghan people,” Karzai said.

Earlier, after visiting the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, Karzai told a packed house at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research that he was greatly impressed by “this magnificent architectural treasure”.

Karzai, who served two terms as president of Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014, said the marble mosaic originating from many countries and the artful blend of historical and cultural elements from different civilizations make the mosque a stunning landmark of the Muslim world.” But it is not just about the architecture; it is about celebrating a culture of peaceful co-existence and promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and dialogue among religions and civilizations. As UAE continues to be a great beacon of openness and moderation, it is imperative that we, the Muslims, our scholars, Ulema, and decision-makers endeavour to promote a culture of tolerance and interfaith harmony.”

Karzai suggested to this end, the United Nations, governments, religious and civil society organisations must also spearhead efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and outreach; and curb the rise of Islamophobia by challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.

“We should appeal to the media and public opinion makers, particularly in the West, to educate and to build bridges between various cultures rather than equating differences with incompatibility, threat and fear. The world must recognise that extremists and terrorists have foremost carried out immense atrocities against Muslims around the world; the terrorists must not be allowed to hijack our great faith. They are indeed the instrument of distorting a peaceful religion and tainting the image of Islam and Muslims around the world,” he said.

On a roadmap to rectify the failings of the past and reverse the threat that terrorism is posing against our common security, Karzai said the world’s great powers need to come together and build a new international security and economic order based on multilateralism, mutual respect, equity, dialogue and cooperation.

“There is a need to rise above narrow national interests and realize that our security and prosperity are increasingly interdependent. No country should seek only their own absolute well-being and security at the expense of others. Most important of all, no government must be allowed to use extremism to advance its geostrategic goals,” he said.

The former Afghan president said the challenge for all of us here today is to move beyond zero-sum games. “It is equally important to build a global consensus and international partnerships that would advance a cooperative and inclusive security paradigm, engaging all powers from America and Europe to China, Russia and India, to respond effectively and jointly to the diverse security challenges. We need a common platform for cooperation to deter and confront all acts of terrorism and to eradicate its roots and sanctuaries. “

Karzai said the Muslim world has experienced unprecedented upheavals in the last few years. “The infiltration of radical ideologies has deeply bruised Muslim countries. Islam, a peaceful and tolerant religion and a creative civilization, is today wrongly equated by some in the West with radicalism and intolerance. Many of the most violent conflicts today are situated in our countries and some of the most heinous acts of terrorism are committed by those who claim to be Muslims.”

Karzai stressed that was in sharp contrast to our glorious past and Islam’s tenets of tolerance, peace and progress.

“Islam enriched humanity with numerous scientific, literary and cultural achievements and made novel contributions to philosophy, science, medicine and many other walks of life. Islam cared about life and culture and made significant advancements in art and literature. Religious dogmas were alien in Muslim societies. We lived up to the truth and the eminence of the divine injunction that “all humans are equal in the sight of God”, and that humans are born into different tribes and distinctions to know each other better.”

Karzai concluded that in order to confront the menace of terrorism, “we must first address the fault lines that can be used to sow division and violence in the Muslim countries. We must work diligently to advance better education and to achieve higher and more equitable living standards. We need to keep pace with the trend of advancements in the world and live in greater harmony with other religions and cultures”.—(Gulf News)

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