Interfaith dialogue ‘vital to curb extremism,’ says Islamic researcher

Ahmed Qassim Al-Ghamdi
Updated 21 September 2018
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Interfaith dialogue ‘vital to curb extremism,’ says Islamic researcher

  • Dialogue is the only choice for contemporary societies to coexist in a peaceful world: Al-Ghamdi
  • We hope this cooperation will promote the culture of moderation and correct misconceptions about Islam, said the researcher

JEDDAH: Interfaith dialogue is essential to combat terrorism, curb extremism and promote peace, a leading Islamic researcher has told Arab News.

Open discussion between followers of different religions would also correct many common misconceptions about Islam, said Sheikh Ahmed Qassim Al-Ghamdi, former president of the Makkah branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.

“Dialogue is the only choice for contemporary societies to coexist in a peaceful world,” Al-Ghamdi said. “It establishes a legitimate relationship between members of different societies. It also ignites their understanding and openness toward each other.”

Such discussions did not conflict with the values of Islam, he said. On the contrary, they encouraged greater mutual understanding. “They are, in fact, in compliance with the Qur’anic approach to protecting human communities, which have been created from the same soul, against racism, sectarian strife, hostility and dissonance.

“We hope this cooperation will promote the culture of moderation and correct misconceptions about Islam.”

It was normal for people to have different views and beliefs, Al-Ghamdi said, but rather than create conflict, this was an opportunity to exchange experiences and share benefits. 

A good example was the recent agreement between the Vatican and the Muslim World League on achieving common objectives. Al-Ghamdi said. “It will cut off the way to extremism and terrorism, encourage members of different religions to work on common humanitarian, religious and social interests, and reinforce positive relations between followers of different religions.”

Saudi Arabia was a unique and distinguished model in the fight against terrorism and extremism, Al-Ghamdi said. The Kingdom continued to combat the evil of terrorism in all forms, locally, regionally and internationally, and it called upon the international community to cooperate to eradicate terrorism.


Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.