Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism

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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism

  • Etidal, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, shows its work in combating extremist ideology
  • Cardinal Tauran says the world's two biggest enemies are "extremism and ignorance"

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received at his office at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh on Wednesday the Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they stressed the important role of followers of religions and cultures in renouncing violence, extremism, terrorism and achieving worldwide security and stability.

The meeting was also attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, Minister of Interior, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.

Tauran arrived on Friday in a historic visit to the kingdom, which hosts Islam’s holiest sites.

He was hosted on Tuesday by Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, or Etidal, which showed its work in combating extremist ideology.

Etidal, Arabic for “moderation”, is an effort by the international community to expose, combat and refute extremist ideology, said Etidal Secretary-General Nasir Al-Biqami told the delegation.

The center was established in 2017 and located in Riyadh, the cooperative effort of more than 55 countries. 

Albugami said the center operates mainly around three pivots — ideology, technology and media. He said Etidal uses media and technology to “disrupt extremist recruitment and promote tolerance and coexistence amongst different religions and cultures.” 

“Etidal has designed machine learning systems and algorithms to detect violent and extremist on-line content. We analyze this content and then anticipate how extremist groups use this content to recruit vulnerable audiences. To counter these efforts, we devise strategic programs and projects that encourage tolerance and moderation,” Al-Biqami said in a statement.

Clash of ignorance

Following the visit, Cardinal Tauran commented, “It’s important to see that Etidal has a mission and a vision. The Center is very wise to analyze the causes of extremism. Most of the time, extremism is provoked by injustice.”

“I think we have two enemies: extremism and ignorance. I don’t believe in the clash of civilization but rather in the clash of ignorance. Most of the time people react because they don’t know who you are or who they are,” said Tauran, who is seen as an energetic promoter of dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam.

Al-Biqami said Tauran’s visit represents the importance of partnership and cooperation in the fight against extremist ideologies.

Saudi leaders have met with a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions in recent months.

In November, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai, met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a historic visit to Riyadh.

The prince also met a group of Jewish and Catholic leaders in a recent visit to New York, which highlighted a show of interfaith dialogue.

Crown Prince Mohammed has sought to project a moderate image of Islam amid rising "Islamophobia" in the West, where the world's second biggest religion is often associated with jihadist ideology and subjugating women.

He announced the lifting of a ban on women driving and has authorized cinemas for the first time in over three decades as part of social reforms under the Kingdom's Vision 2030 program.


Saudi king arrives in Egypt on official visit

Updated 52 min 13 sec ago
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Saudi king arrives in Egypt on official visit

  • King Salman will head the Saudi delegation at the EU-Arab states summit
  • Ways to strengthen Saudi-Egyptian ties will be discussed during the king’s visit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman arrived in Egypt Saturday on an official visit, during which he will attend the EU-Arab Summit, the Saudi Press Agency reported.  

The king will head the Saudi delegation at the summit, which is due to be held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. 

The two-day summit is billed as a starting point for the Arab League and the EU to boost cooperation on shared strategic priorities including migration, security and climate change.

Economic development, the Palestinian question, and the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen are also up for discussion.

The king's visit is a response to an invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who will host the two-day summit.

Ways to strengthen Saudi-Egyptian ties will be discussed during the visit.