The committee unveiled a website, Youtube video, and hashtag for the interreligious prayer day, and paid to promote posts on Twitter advertising the initiative.
Partners supporting the committee’s “Pray for Humanity” campaign include the Vatican, Muslim Council of Elders, al-Azhar Mosque, the UAE Ministry of Tolerance, World Council of Churches, and the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, according to their website.
The Higher Committee “has been highly promoted by the ruler of Abu Dhabi,” Hinder said.
“Actually Abu Dhabi has the intention to promote religious tolerance beyond the year of tolerance, which finished in 2019,” he added.
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, presented the committee as a group to implement initiatives that foster tolerance and coexistence.
The committee’s primary focus is the promotion of the message of the Human Fraternity Document signed by Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, in February 2019.
The director Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said that Pope Francis “was pleased to learn of the initiative.”
Bruni said that the pope thanked the UAE for “the concrete commitment shown on behalf of human fraternity” and expressed “the hope that similar initiatives can spring up throughout the world.”
Since its formation, the committee has met twice at the Vatican and once at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The committee’s first meeting took place Sept. 11 at the pope’s residence in Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City. “The date was chosen as a sign of the will to build life and fraternity where others sowed death and destruction,” according to a Holy See statement.
During this meeting the group appointed Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Giuxot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as president of the committee, and Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, former advisor to the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, as secretary.
Among the committee’s Muslim members are Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders Sultan Faisal Al Remeithi, President of Al-Azhar University Mohamed Hussein Mahrasawi, Higher Council of Muslims member Yasser Hareb, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak.
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Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Coptic Catholic priest and Pope Francis’ personal secretary, is a member of the executive office of the committee, along with Sultan Al Remeithi and Yasser Hareb.
The committee added M. Bruce Lustig, rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congregation as a member in September, and later also added Irina Bokova, former director-general of UNESCO.
“The prayer for humanity is just one stage. We want to support this document because it becomes even more relevant now after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bokova said in an online press conference May 11.
During their meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres the committee proposed that Feb. 4 be declared the “World Day of Human Fraternity” and asked the United Nations, along with the Holy See and al-Azhar Mosque, to create a “World Summit On Human Fraternity.”
Feb. 4 marks the date that Pope Francis and el-Tayeb signed the Document on Human Fraternity during the pope’s apostolic journey to the UAE.
Bishop Hinder told CNA that Pope Francis is held in high esteem by Muslims in the region since his visit.