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Interfaith Alliance for Safe Communities: Child Dignity Online

Abu Dhabi, 19th-20th Nov 2018

United Arab Emirates Launches The “Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities,” Convenes International Religious Leaders To Tackle World’s Most Important Social Challenges

Inaugural Forum “Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities: Child Dignity Online” To Be Held In Abu Dhabi, 19- 20 November 2018

Abu Dhabi, September 24, 2018: The Government of the United Arab Emirates today announced the launch of The Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities. The alliance seeks to unite religious leaders from around the world, through a series of bi-annual forums and global workshops, in order to foster dialogue and take action to address important social challenges.

The first, invitation-only forum will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 19 and 20, 2018. Entitled “The Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities: Child Dignity Online,” the forum will bring together the world’s religious leaders to address the issue of online child abuse, a global epidemic which requires urgent attention.

Brigadier General Mohammed Humaid bin Dalmuj Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior noted the importance of the role of unity and commitment in tackling modern social issues. “Together we stand in solidarity, along with leaders of faith, distinguished academic experts, and industry leaders, to protect every child’s right to dignity and safety online.”

“The Interfaith Alliance is a way to reach, inform and involve people of all faiths to accelerate action both globally and at grassroots levels. The event will give faith leaders the knowledge, understanding and tools they require to provide the advice, comfort and support that children and families need,” he concluded.

Currently, 85% of people in the world are members of or identify with some religious faith. Faith leaders are often the first line of defence in supporting families and children and protecting them from harm. Engaging and empowering faith leaders is a vital link in the fight to combat online abuse and exploitation of children.

“Every child’s life is precious and every child has a right to dignity and safety,” said Father Bishoy Salib – Coptic Orthodox Church. “With the advent of digital communication, over 800 million children and adolescents are exposed to criminal behaviour online. Abuse and exploitation of children online is not merely a risk, it’s a reality, taking place at an unprecedented scale. Urgent action must be taken and we look forward to the exchange of ideas at this year’s forum,” he concluded.

In the lead-up to the forum, a series of workshops have been held around the world, including Cairo, Nairobi, Manila, Abu Dhabi, Santo Domingo and soon New Delhi. These conversations will inform the discussions to be held and declarations to be made from the Interfaith Alliance event. 

About The Interfaith Alliance

The Interfaith Alliance arose from a pioneering congress – Child Dignity in the Digital Age – and the resulting Declaration of Rome of October 2017 which was accepted and endorsed by Pope Francis. It was during this congress that the Government of the United Arab Emirates highlighted its commitment to further progressing inter-faith dialogue and action, which has resulted in this year’s forum: “Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities: Child Dignity Online.

The forum has three key goals:

1. To reach, inform and involve people of faith around the world  

2. To create dialogue on these challenges in every place of worship 

3. To mobilise global action by people of every faith. 

Approximately 400 of the world’s religious leaders will be in attendance at the forum, including a number of senior faith leaders. Those presently confirmed as attending include:

● Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church 

● Dr. Imam Ahmad Al-Tayib, Al Azhar Mosque and University, Cairo 

● Ani Choying Drolma, the Buddhist Singing Nun, Nepal 

● Dr. Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam, All-India Imam Organization 

● Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Sikh Leader

● Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark and leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church

This year’s forum is organised by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and supported by the Child Dignity Alliance, Arigatou International, Religions for Peace, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, the Global Network of Religions for Children and WePROTECT.