Thursday, 16 Sep 2021 - 10 of Tishri, 5782

UAE Ambassador makes ‘historic’ visit to Jewish community of Antwerp

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”The UAE will continue to champion religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue both at home and abroad.My visit to Antwerp was in the spirit of building stronger bonds with Antwerp’s ancient Jewish community,” said Mohamed Abushahab.

In a sign of warming relations in the Middle-East and beyond, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Belgium and the European Union, Mohamed Abushahab,  paid a visit to the Jewish community in Antwerp on Monday.

The ambassador was invited by Michael Freilich, member of the Belgian federal parliament and of the Jewish community of Antwerp, to visit a number of unique Jewish hotspots in the city which is sometimes referred to as “the Jerusalem of the North”.

During his visit, the Emirati ambassador met various local Jewish leaders including those of the Forum of Jewish Organisations, the communities of Machsike and Shomre Hadas, the Belzer Chassidim and Hatzoloh.

“The Abraham Accords, signed last year between Israel and a number of Arab states, will not only have an effect in the Middle-East, but also foster closer bonds between those nations and Jewish communities around the world,’’ declared Michael Freilich.

‘’The fact that kosher food options are now being offered in Dubai and elsewhere also means that the UAE can expect to see an inflow of Jewish visitors, tourists and businessmen alike, from around the globe. This is a major milestone,” he added.

He continued:  “The UAE held a first digital memorial for the Holocaust a few months ago, I am glad that we were able to continue remembering those taken away from us. This moment can also be an example to counter anti-Semitism and show that friendship and mutual respect for each other is possible between Jews and Muslims.’’

Ambassador Abushahab said he was ‘’delighted’’ to meet with members of Antwerp’s Jewish community, stressing that his country ‘’will continue to champion religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue both at home and abroad.’’ ‘’My visit to Antwerp was in the spirit of building stronger bonds with Antwerp’s ancient Jewish community,” he said.

Around 18,000 Jews live in Antwerp.

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