A picture of what, from the first glance, looks to be a kiss on the lips between Pope Francis and Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb has caused a stir online – but the act was more of a peck on the cheek than a full-blown smooch.
At an inter-religious meeting in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, the two religious leaders celebrated the signing of a document on fighting extremism together with an embrace – and a kiss.
Many observers, seeing a picture of the event published by Reuters, believed the moment was just a tad too intimate, with the Pope and the Imam all but locking lips in front of onlookers.
Social media users snickered, suggested the two “get a room” and mocked the image in light of both religions’ scriptures concerning homosexuality, as well as the UAE’s strictness on public displays of affection.
I would love to be in the room as @VP Mike Pence finds out about this!
— Isiah (@Cyanax) February 4, 2019
— Angry Goddess (@Serena_Unger) February 4, 2019
This is some next level holy gayness… I wonder what Quran and bible Thinks about this
— Toshi (@Coco_Shifu) February 4, 2019
Get a room, dudes
— ? सिमरन (@CatSimran) February 4, 2019
Is it a bad choice of the photo or it is in purpose? pic.twitter.com/9gQDPX1gNp
— Ahmad Al Hammady ?? (@AhmadHammady) February 4, 2019
This is 2019, the world is evolving rapidly, so does the way religious leaders greet each other’s. Back off let them have their moment.????
— Marion Lilian (@MarionLilian4) February 5, 2019
So the Pope can kiss men, but the rest of us can’t? ? https://t.co/QphxPeJvOh
— Fernando Hurtado (@fhurtado) February 5, 2019
However, as other images from the event reveal, the initial Reuters picture was likely just a matter of getting caught at an inopportune moment. The two would, moments later, transition into a more prim cheek-rub.