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Wed 6 Feb 2019 08:27 AM

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Pope hails 'step forward' in Islam dialogue after UAE visit

Pope Francis hailed the signing of a document on 'human fraternity for world peace' with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning

Pope hails 'step forward' in Islam dialogue after UAE visit
Pope Francis hailed the signing of a document on "human fraternity for world peace" with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning.

Pope Francis on Tuesday hailed a "step forward" in dialogue with Islam after his historic visit to the UAE, which must still "ripen like fruit".

The pope made the statement in the plane bringing him back to Rome after a visit to Abu Dhabi, where he became the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula.

He hailed the signing of a document on "human fraternity for world peace" with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning.

It called for "freedom of belief", the "promotion of a culture of tolerance", the "protection of places of worship" and "full citizenship" rights for minorities.

"The document was prepared with much reflection and prayer," the pope said.

"Because for me, there's only one great danger at the moment: destruction, war, hatred between us. And if we believers aren't capable of helping each other, embracing each other... our faith will be defeated.

"I heard from several Muslims that it (the document) will be studied at university, at least at Al-Azhar, for sure, and in schools. It will be studied, not imposed," he said.