The International Union for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue and Peace Education (ADIC) was launched in Paris in 1989. Created by Dr. Adel Amer, former director of the League of Arab States in Paris; and Father Lelong, a catholic White Father; ADIC was originally called, L’Association du Dialogue Islamo-Chrétien (Association for Muslim-Christian Dialogue).
When Dr. Amer passed away in 1995, Dr. Aly El-Samman, international lawyer and member of the Supreme Islamic Council of Egypt, picked up the torch and became president of ADIC. Dr. El-Samman then expanded the organization’s mandate to include dialogue with those of the Jewish faith. In order to represent the full range of ADIC’s activities over the years, the name was changed in 2010 to its present form, but the acronym, ADIC, well recognized in interfaith circles, remains the same.
Building relationships among the three monotheistic religions through colloquia, public statements, and television programs, as well as cultural and educational activities, ADIC’s role in intercultural and interfaith dialogue, spanned more than 20 years and three continents.
Primary Objectives of ADIC
1. to provide frameworks for reflection, study and research on any questions related to the dialogue among different cultures and spiritualities.
2. to lead activities promoting education and peace, especially regarding exchanges between Jews, Muslims, Christians and other spiritual families.
3. to provide a forum for spiritual leaders and media experts to realize similar goals.
Guiding Principles of ADIC
All cultures, no matter how diverse, must work together for peaceful coexistence. Therefore, ADIC puts a premium on the common values of all religions, spiritual groups and cultures – the core concepts that unite all of humanity.
ADIC, Al-Azhar and Vatican
A notable example of ADIC’s importance to intercultural and interfaith dialogue occurred on February 24, 2000, when Dr. El-Samman played a pivotal role in the historic visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to El-Azhar Al-Sharif in Cairo, Egypt. This 1,000-year old institution is the unequivocal religious and moral authority of the Sunni Muslim world.
The relationship between ADIC, El-Azhar and the Vatican began in the early 1990s when Dr. El-Samman organized a series of three meetings between the two organizations with the aim of creating an official agreement for dialogue. The meetings took place in Bern, Paris and Cairo, respectively.
After the first meeting in April 1994, Dr. El-Samman commented, “Through the grace of God, a positive current passed between the Grand Imam of El-Azhar, Sheikh Gadelhaq Aly Gadelhaq, and Cardinal Franz Koenig, member of the Sacred College at the Vatican, and in the space of two meetings of three hours each, a climate of confidence was born.”
Dr. El-Samman then assisted El-Azhar in creating the Permanent Committee of El-Azhar for Dialogue with the Monotheistic Religions. Finally, after four years of relationship building and negotiations, an agreement between El-Azhar and the Vatican was signed on May 28, 1998. This agreement strives to create a spirit of fraternity, solidarity, justice and peace between Christians and Muslims on all levels.
The Joint Committee for Dialogue between El-Azhar and the Vatican continues to meet every year to pursue actions based on the common values of all monotheistic religions.
ADIC, El-Azhar and Church of England
ADIC and the Permanent Committee of El-Azhar’s work with the Vatican paved the way for dialogue between El-Azhar and other religious institutions. Therefore, Dr. Aly El-Samman was asked to initiate contacts with the Church of England and to prepare the groundwork for cooperation. As a result, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Sheikh of El-Azhar exchanged several visits between 1995 and 1999.
The culmination of these meetings was the creation of a Joint Committee for Dialogue between the Church of England and El-Azhar. An agreement signed on September 11, 2001 established a permanent program of dialogue and an agreement to meet every year to find solutions to issues that threaten Muslim-Christian understanding.
ADIC in Egypt
From 2010 to 2017, ADIC operated a Cairo office to support the pivotal role that the organization plays in supporting positive relations between the Orthodox Coptic Christians of Egypt and the majority Sunni Muslim community. This focused on bringing together the leaders of both groups to issue joint statements emphasizing common values and the importance of tolerance and respect.
Because of Dr. Aly El-Samman’s outstanding reputation as an interfaith advisor to both communities, he was personally involved in issuing and diffusing these statements. And, through extensive television and radio appearances, he succeeded in spreading the values common to all faiths and cultures to local, regional and international audiences.
ADIC and the International Community
ADIC organized regular meetings and round tables on interfaith issues between El-Azhar and other religious and governmental organizations. These included a meeting between El-Azhar representatives and Rabbi Samuel Sirat, former Chief Rabbi of France and Vice President of the Conference of European Rabbis, as well as meetings with government leaders of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, and the Czech Republic.
Through the tireless efforts of its president, Dr. Aly El-Samman, ADIC became a catalyst for international cooperation towards positive change. By promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue based on the concept of “understanding through interaction”, ADIC helped engender harmony between diverse groups and worked to overcome ignorance and discrimination.