By Souad Sbai
With the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates, the Holy See gives an unmistakable signal of rejection of the extremism promoted by Qatar all over the world, including Europe, through the Islamist multinational of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Preparations are underway on the Rome-Abu Dhabi axis in view of the historic visit of Pope Francis to the capital of the United Arab Emirates. What awaits the pontiff, the first to visit a Gulf country, from tomorrow until February 5 is an intense program. The starting point will be the Grand Mosque “Sheikh Zayed”, where he will meet again Ahmed El Tayeb, the Grand Imam of the Al Azhar mosque in Egypt. Later, the “Global Conference on Human Brotherhood” will take place, where the main religious leaders from all over the world will intervene. And finally: the Mass that will be celebrated at Zayed Sports City, which will be attended by more than 130 thousand people, belonging mainly to the variegated Catholic community resident in the Emirates.
The guiding thread will be the interreligious dialogue and the construction of peace in a region torn by conflict, extremism and terrorism. The repercussions over Christians have suffered in the Middle East so far have been very serious and the visit of Pope Francis should be considered a clear response for those who continue to propagate “radicalism” and “religious extremism,” said Bishop Paul Hinder, of the Apostolic Vicariate for Southern Arabia.
Abu Dhabi as a point of reference in the Arab world is, therefore, a natural choice for Vatican diplomacy. With a video message, Pope Francis wanted to legitimize this election, praising the United Arab Emirates as a “model of coexistence” and a “meeting point between different civilizations and cultures.” “This occasion,” he concluded, “will allow us to open a new chapter in the history of interreligious relations.”
Since the diplomatic relations were officially launched in 2007, the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates have established a strong strategic relationship. In 2016, the visit to the Vatican by the Emirati leader, Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, sealed the culmination of the bridge of dialogue and cooperation that links the Holy See with Abu Dhabi. And now Pope Francis retraces the bridge starting from Rome, underlining the convergence of values and intentions. Tolerance, harmony, peace, religious freedom: in fact, the Emirates are an “incubator” of these values for the entire Middle East, emphasizes Bishop Hinder.
Abu Dhabi: yes; Doha: no. With the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates, the Holy See gives an unequivocal sign of rejection of the extremism promoted by Qatar all over the world, including Europe, through the Islamist multinational of the Muslim Brotherhood. A diplomatic slap of extraordinary importance, which further strengthens the isolation of Doha at national and international level, making even more evident the geopolitical realignments underway at this stage.
After Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis will travel to Morocco in March. The Holy See has traditionally maintains excellent relations with Jordan and last year signed an agreement in Jeddah with the Muslim World League.
The Conference on the future of the Middle East, to be held in Warsaw on February 12 and 13, will be attended by the United States and many Arab countries, including the countries gathered in the so-called Anti-Terrorism Quartet (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain). In Poland, therefore, there will be no place for Emirs Al Thani’s Qatar, Erdogan’s Turkey, the Khomeinist Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood: the new “pole” of world Islamism.
To face the threat posed by these “rogue states”, united by the red thread of jihad woven by the Muslim Brotherhood, an alternative international alliance has been created. However, Europe seems unwilling to join. In fact, the High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, will not be present in Warsaw, and the participation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of France, Germany and Italy is still uncertain.
Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi will thus mark a turning point, also indicating to Europe what is the way forward to advance the prospects for peace, security and human rights in the Middle East, with the hope that reason prevails in favor of a common commitment against those who finance terrorism: Qatar.