By Vincenzo Cotroneo
Once the trip is over, it is necessary to make three analytical considerations regarding the results obtained by Pope Francis during his visit to the United Arab Emirates.
As if his mere presence was not enough to move a large number of people beyond religious belief; In addition, we must consider that the presence of the highest representative of the Catholic Christian faith in the world in Emirati land, sounds like a sign of victory for everyone. Let’s go to the analysis, step by step, divided into three categories.
Francis, the influencer
Pope Francis is not only the summit of the Catholic faith and, therefore, the representative of one billion and two hundred million faithful – (according to the information reported by Annuario Pontificio 2017 and Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae), a number that is growing thanks to the new-born African dynamism compared to the time of Karol Wojtyla – but he is a Head of State, the Vatican City, ruling and operating in the field of international politics to defend his interests. About this second role, there are many people, most of the time, that forget its existence. Francesco has the ability to mobilize crowds and direct and govern the choices and directions of thought that becomes a part of an intimate partisan conviction on the part of the faithful, whose task is to bring this block of moral and ethical indications back into this sphere of daily competition, in order to make them operative in the social field. To rule and to manage. To provide an answer. To choose a path in order to support a choice. Those who work in the field of politics and communication, can, undoubtedly, affirm that these are the right qualities for a charismatic, energetic, decisive and acclaimed man able to get listening and intellectual exchange. The faithful who listens to the Pope, opens his heart to the faith although his mind at the beginning derived from it, trying to harmonize it with the daily norms that regulate society. The agnostic or the “non-Catholic” listens to the Pope as Head of State, who in addition to govern the faith, also talks about politics and through his learned considerations, instructs and directs international relations capable of obtaining exceptional results, like those he has taken home after this visit to the Middle East.
The exchange of letters, statements, press conferences, is no longer an expression of faith, but the expression of a measured and careful political action, aimed at maximizing the political value and the physical presence of the parties involved. Francis’ presence changes the balance, because the eye of the researcher is not directed towards the person of the Pope, known and notable, but towards that of his colleague, the Head of State or Governor, who brag about the proximity to the Bishop in Rome, always the object of attention and respect also by the main exponents of the monotheistic and non-monotheistic faiths.
The noisy silence of the absent.
The signature on the first day of the visit of the “document of Human Fraternity”, the document signed by Francisco and the Grand imam of Al Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb is the exact representation of how much this meeting was wanted and how much press and media have been pushed to spread the content of the agreement.
Who knows the art of information processing intelligence will know that the more exposed is the information to sunlight, the more material it contains what is wanted to be known by all levels of social understanding and evaluation.
In this case, the meaning of the agreement is very clear: The declaration of fraternity (which was also signed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates) commits religious leaders to work together forever and to reject violence and radicalism.
The Pope told the audience: “Fraternity is established here at the roots of our common humanity, as a vocation contained in God’s plan of creation… there is no alternative. We either build the future together, or there will be not a future. Religions, in particular, cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures.”
Francesco has obtained the legal and sociological qualification of the new “moderate Muslims”. Until the signature, it was just an ideal category that did not have a face, nor legally recognizable principles; a category without a cultural identification. Today it is no longer the situation; the Grand Imam Al-Tayeb triggered this social short-circuit that will definitely cut off the bridges that link with those who see in radicalization the complete affirmation of the faith and the supremacy of Islam.
“The document is historic – emphasized the Egyptian guide – and it calls for policymakers (for whom it is not simply an agreement or a guide for the faithful, but who assumes the connotations of a valid and immediate political act) to stop bloodshed and conflict. Muslims must protect their Christian brothers. I will work with my brother and friend Pope Francis to protect all communities.”
The steps taken are those that lead to the development of a new religious conscience. And it is precisely in the United Arab Emirates where the Imam rewards the emirate’s political commitment, publicly appreciating the investment made in young people, emphasizing the farsightedness and wisdom, which become points that emit light and hospitality.
These words resound in the rather deafening silence of those who are absent. The Shiite world, the hard and pure component of the line of the descent tradition, does not seem to have known, and at the time it is preparing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its revolution in its most identifiable country, it does not pay attention to this meeting. In a few days, Iran will remember the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution and Khomeini’s return to Tehran, and a statement, in favor or against, is still awaited as is the identification of a path that sees an attempt of unitary Islam guarantor of a future that could be much more optimistic and attractive (both for Muslims and non-Muslims) in every corner of the world. Al-Tayeb, in fact, was categorical: “Muslims in Western countries must follow and respect the rules and regulations of the countries in which they reside”… He also invited Muslims to give a new representation of themselves and of their own adherence to the faith, seeking to put an end to that Islamist-terrorist link born after September 11, quoting numerous Quranic verses about the value of life.
Respect for rules, social adherence, attention to the person and the law rather than faith. “Religious freedom is not limited only to freedom of worship but sees in the other truly a brother or sister, a child of my own humanity… We must have the courage to accept and recognize the freedom of the other,” said the Pope, in an Islamic country, in view of the upcoming visit to Morocco in March where the ruler, Mohamed, is considered a direct descendant of the prophet.
Hard words, but accepted with courage by those who have the foresight to understand that the future of their population passes through this kind of meetings, halfway between religious and political dialogue. Both promote agreements and understandings that should be established between the States in a future closer than ever.
The Saudi mystery
A special observer who maintains a safe distance not to be considered too interested, but at the same time close because it is the Egyptian friend and ally to provide through Al-Azhar a new political vision; it is Saudi Arabia probably led within a short time by the young Prince Bin Salman. In a road that goes towards Western modernity, and still shaky because of the issue of human rights, Saudi Arabia studies how to establish an effective line of political communication with the representative of the World Catholic Christian Community.
Bin Salman’s attempt to put an end to the radical organizations, to approach the most politically relevant allies regarding foreign relations as for example, EE. UU (or Israel) is important from the point of view of the new key reading that he wants to give of the whole peninsula. Both politically (and economically, taking into account the progress made and the attempt to release a limited resource such as oil to address other types of business in the energy sector) and sociologically (the ability to attract investment and partners is the result of the country’s ability to unlock the levers of the rigidity of religion for the benefit of laws and Constitutions more man-sized).
Without undermining the sacredness of the indication of the ruling house as the guardian family of the Prophet’s holy places, it is also possible to build an alternative route that can be sustained and indicated as a virtue by all Muslim countries that see Saudi Arabia as a cradle of faith and an element of example and paradigm. Those who fight against terrorist organizations and against the financing of European organizations linked to jihadism, the relentless struggle against radicalism, can become the new bases on which to build a new meaning of modern Islamic thought, according to the moderate canons established by Francesco and Al-Tayeb who gave Bin Salman a great help to carry out the reform activities that will take place in 2019 and that will continue throughout the following years.
A final consideration must be made on the only country that has raised its voice “against”, that is, Emir Al Thani’s Qatar that hosts and protects the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood. This organization, expressed its opposition to the Francis’ visit, accusing him of violations and undue interference. The reality is that the meeting in the United Arab Emirates has been devastating for organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and for extremist and radical countries like Qatar that finance international terrorism. Raising their voice against the Pope is another sign of fear and weakness in these organizations. The fear that Islam can rediscover itself and abandon the roots of evil and combat on which the Muslim Brotherhood is based, is the best weapon to definitively mark the end of the battle between the moderates and the supporters of terror .