M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News Staff
Publication Date: 
Sat, 2003-11-29 03:00

RIYADH, 29 November 2003 — German Interior Minister Otto Schily has reaffirmed his government’s support for the Bonn-based King Fahd Academy, which is funded by Saudi Arabia, and denounced a media campaign against it.

Schily said the school, which faced closure recently because a member of the staff was found to have preached hatred, had a role in promoting inter-faith dialogue.

“The King Fahd Academy in Bonn embodies peaceful coexistence and dialogue between Islam and Christianity,” Schily said in a statement obtained by Arab News.

“The academy constitutes an important cultural institution, and government authorities in Bonn and Cologne have successfully resolved the problem caused by a speech delivered at Friday prayers recently,” he said.

“The campaign launched against the academy following the Friday speech has threatened to undermine Saudi-German relations,” he added.

Elmar Jacobs, a spokesman of the German Embassy, told Arab News the academy was being reorganized following the intervention of the local authorities.

“The first meeting of the newly-constituted Arab-German Committee to streamline the functioning of the academy held last week took several key decisions to ensure smooth running of this important Arab institution,” Jacobs said.

This panel is composed of officials from the Saudi Embassy, representatives of local government agencies in Bonn and Cologne and representatives from the school.

The academy, Jacobs said, had been allowed to hold seminars and special events for its students.

The King Fahd Academy is a non-profit Arab school funded by the Saudi government and designed mainly to teach children of Arab families with temporary residence in Germany. It follows the Saudi curriculum.

The interior minister stressed Germany was keen to further enhance its relations with the Kingdom.

Denying media reports, Schily said he harbored no animosity toward Islam.

Jacobs said a security delegation from the Kingdom will visit Germany later this month to hold talks with German officials on cooperation in security matters and terrorism.

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