OIC chief seeks cultural tolerance



VIENNA: SULTAN AL-TAMIMI

Published — Tuesday 27 November 2012

Last update 27 November 2012 4:26 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu yesterday emphasized the importance of cultural and religious tolerance to promote global peace. “It should be given a prominent place on global agenda,” he said.
Addressing a symposium, the OIC chief said the concept of clash of civilizations had created fears between the East and West. “Our main problem is the lack of knowledge about the other,” he pointed out.
The symposium was organized by the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in cooperation with the Turkish Parliament and the European Union.
Ihsanoglu raised the issue of Islamophobia, saying it would contribute to increasing violence and tension. “It’s an abuse of the identity of nations and honor of humanity,” he said, and urged Western countries to resolve the issue by enacting laws and regulations.
He said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has set up a center to monitor Islamophobia in different parts of the world and appointed a special envoy to deal with the issue.
The symposium was held on the occasion of the center’s opening. Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and senior officials from Austria, Spain and other parts of the world were expected to attend the opening ceremony.
The center is the brainchild of King Abdullah. He started by hosting an emergency Islamic summit in Makkah in 2005 that endorsed interfaith dialogue to redress “the existing lack of mutual understanding among cultures and civilizations”.
“This is an important initiative taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, this initiative began on national level with King Abdul Aziz Center For National Dialogue, and then Islamic dialogue, and now on a global level with International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna,” said the center’s Secretary-General Faisal bin Muaammar.
The king visited Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2007, a first for a Saudi king.
The following year, he convened 500 Muslim religious leaders in Makkah, including former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to give their blessings to large-scale talks with leaders of other faiths.
Saudi Arabia then organized a major multireligious conference in Madrid in July 2008, where King Abdullah met Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist leaders.
The king continued his efforts in the same direction, sponsoring a discussion on religious tolerance at the United Nations four months later that was attended by then US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
This year, King Abdullah took a further step by proposing a dialogue center in Riyadh to promote harmony among Islam's various sects in a signal he wanted to foster greater tolerance among the various Muslim groups.
Although launched by the Kingdom and named after King Abdullah, Faisal bin Muammar, secretary-general of KAICIID, stressed it is not a Saudi entity. “This is an international institution,” he said. “About 70 percent of the world's religions are on its board. The center will be a neutral place to exchange ideas.”
In fact, the center is the first global organization focused on religion and is backed by an international treaty signed by Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia. Most other dialogue efforts are linked to churches or nongovernmental organizations.
The Vatican, a strong supporter of the project, has joined as a founding observer and will be represented on the board, which according to the treaty must have three Christians, three Muslims, a Jew, a Hindu and a Buddhist.
Both the three sponsoring states, which appoint the board and approve its budget and projects, and the board of directors will take their decisions by majority vote.
Saudi Arabia has footed the start-up bills — about 15 million euros for the Sturany Palace building, the former library for Vienna University's theology faculty, and 10-15 million euros annually for the first three years. But the center will have to finance itself after that.
Early Monday prior to the opening ceremony, several symposiums and workshops were held in the city, showcasing the work and practices around the world in conducting interfaith dialogues.
The center plans initial work in three fields. Its “Image of the Other” program will have experts study how other faiths are portrayed in their media and education, with an eye on improving schoolbooks and public perceptions of religions.
A fellowship program will bring young leaders from all religions together for three to four months in Vienna to study selected issues and learn how each faith deals with them.
A program with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will involve religious leaders in Africa in efforts to support health projects for children, which militants sometimes sabotage by telling people their religion forbids them.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The father of the suicide bomber who blew himself up in a mosque in Kuwait has blamed “evil” forces for his son’s behavior.Sounding confused and sad, Sulaiman Al-Gabbaa, the father of Fahad Al-Gabbaa, said: “An evil hand has sent my son to hi...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) launched the idea of a project called Watani to link all parts of the Kingdom by air by beefing up activities at important provincial airports.Capt. Abdul Hakim Badar, assistant vice president a...
JEDDAH: Unofficial marriage is a refuge for a divorced mother to lead a married life while keeping her children in her custody but without the knowledge of the former husband who could demand the custody of the children if he learned about the ex-wif...
JEDDAH: Makkah’s health department has set up a committee to verify the sick leave certificates of employees.The department stated it would apply government regulations on sick leave, which includes people providing the address of the facilities wher...
RIYADH: The directorate of roads and transport has registered 20 cases of violations worth SR24,500 in Al-Qassim, where the transport ministry continued its surveillance drive against the companies in the transport business.According to the directora...
RIYADH: The implementation of an integrated health plan to combat MERS has resulted in a sharp drop in cases, with only one out of 736 samples testing positive for the contagion in the Kingdom in the last six days. Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khal...
RIYADH: Muslims must cut traditionally high electricity use during Ramadan in line with the principles of austerity and self-control they are supposed to adopt in this month, economists say.Economist Al-Sadeq Idris said energy use increases during Ra...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry will begin next Tuesday to check whether companies are complying with new laws requiring them to place proper price labels on all their products.It is mandatory for companies to stop using phrases such as...
RIYADH: Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh Al-Asheikh chaired the first meeting with Yemeni scholars to exchange ideas on how to strengthen their role in restoring peace in their country.The first Saudi-Yemen scholars meeting, dubbed the “outreach sch...
RIYADH: To cope with the growing number of applicants (boys and girls) at technical colleges that reached 126,023 last year, a state-run organization launched an online unified portal to ease the enrolment procedures.According to the Technical and V...
RIYADH: A senior government official from Dhaka, who visited Riyadh last week, has sorted out technical issues to expedite issuing 1.5 million machine readable passports (MRP) to Bangladeshi expatriates in the Kingdom. Information and Communication T...
JEDDAH: Jeddah municipality is keen to provide health and food security to residents and visitors of the city, and they are continually conducting inspections of food stores, restaurants, markets and food storage facilities to avoid any violations by...

Stay Connected

Facebook