New York

15 May 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Interfaith Iftar Dinner organized by the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Salam Alaikum.  Ramadan Karim.

To my dear friend, Ambassador Lana Nusseibah, and Consul General  Abdullah Shaheen, thank you for bringing us together.

I am very pleased to see in this Interfaith Iftar many familiar faces as well as new faces including faith leaders, representatives of the international community and UN colleagues.

We come together in a spirit of compassion, tolerance and mutual respect.  

This is precisely the spirit that animates this Holy Month of Ramadan.

It is also a spirit reflected in the core values of all major religions – namely, the fundamental understanding that we are bound together in our common humanity.

We desperately need that spirit today, particularly against the backdrop of horrific attacks in recent months targeting places of worship, killing scores of Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Just yesterday, the Secretary-General went to Christchurch, New Zealand and laid a wreath at the remembrance wall for the victims of the terrible terror attack there two months ago. 

He met with families and shared a strong message of solidarity and resolve from all of us. He also expressed his gratitude for the recent interfaith meeting with Pope Francis in the United Arab Emirates.

The declaration signed by the two leaders calls on people of faith to recognize and respect one another and work together for the good of humanity. 

In that spirit, I also want to recognize and thank the United Arab Emirates for declaring 2019 as the Year of Tolerance.

This is yet another demonstration of a commitment to coexistence that the Late Sheikh Zayed strived to instill in the people and government of the United Arab Emirates.

We, as the United Nations, stand with you to defend this noble cause. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of standing up to all forms of hate speech and racism during his meeting with the Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb in Cairo earlier this month.

Tolerance is also what brings us together this evening to not only break bread but to also build bridges as sisters and brothers in faith. 

I thank you for being here to do just that.  I wish you a blessed Ramadan.