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Pope condemns Yemen war in UAE visit

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The pontiff warned future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the “logic of armed power … the arming of borders, the raising of walls.

Abu Dhabi: In the first papal visit to the Arab Gulf, Pope Francis has said that faith leaders have a duty to reject war.

According to Al Jazeera, the pontiff has said that war cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death,” the pope said on Monday, addressing an inter-religious meeting attended by hundreds of representatives from different faiths.   

“I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he added.

He said: “Every form of violence must be condemned without hesitation… No violence can be justified in the name of religion.”

The gathering included imams, muftis, ministers, rabbis, swamis, Zoroastrians and Sikhs.

Francis, who has made outreach to Muslim communities a cornerstone of his papacy, is on an historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. 

More than 10 million Yemenis now risk imminent starvation.

The pope said the consequences of the war in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East “are before our eyes”.

Francis warned the future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the “logic of armed power … the arming of borders, the raising of walls”.

“There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future,” said Francis.

He also called for religious equality in the region. 

“I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed,” he said. 

At the end of the interfaith meeting, Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb – the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam – signed a joint statement on “human fraternity” and their hopes for world peace.

They then laid the cornerstones for a new church and mosque to be built side-by-side in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.

While it is unknown whether Francis discussed the topic with the Crown Prince during their private meeting, the Pope did issue a public plea for peace in Yemen from the Vatican on Sunday, just an hour before his departure for Abu Dhabi.

In off-the-cuff remarks not included in his prepared speech, the Pope said: “Let us pray loudly because there are children that are hungry, are thirsty, don’t have medicine and their lives are in danger.”

In response, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet that he “welcomed” the pontiff’s prayers, calling on 2019 to be “the year of peace” in Yemen.

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