Saudi Arabia key in fight against terror: UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, is addressing a joint press conference in Riyadh, on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 13 February 2017

Saudi Arabia key in fight against terror: UN chief

RIYADH: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lent all support to the warring factions in Yemen if they are willing to reconcile and reach a political solution to the bloody conflict within the framework of the UN resolutions and GCC-brokered initiative. Guterres also strongly backed the efforts of UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, saying that the UN envoy enjoys full support from the UN.
“Our envoy has my full support and I believe that he is doing an impartial work, that he is doing it in a very professional way and independently of what other people may think, he has my full support,” said Guterres, while addressing a joint press conference with Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign minister, here Sunday. The UN chief, who speaking at the press conference after holding talks with King Salman, said that “Saudi Arabia is a pillar of stability in the region besides being a key in the fight against terrorism.”
At the outset of the meeting at Al-Yamamah Palace, King Salman congratulated Guterres on his appointment to the UN’s top post.
“The king and UN secretary general reviewed the efforts and the missions entrusted to the UN to achieve international peace and security,” said a report published by SPA Sunday. Later, the UN secretary general met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior; who praised UN efforts to achieve global peace and stability.
The UN chief also met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, minister of defense, and discussed the latest developments in the Middle East region, particularly in Syria and Yemen, as well as the efforts exerted by the Kingdom to restore peace, security and stability in the region. The meeting also addressed the Kingdom’s support for the efforts of the UN.
Al-Jubeir deplored the Yemen situation saying, “We made many agreements with Houthis and the faction led by Ali Abdullah Saleh, but none of the agreement was implemented by them. The Kingdom and the GCC went ahead to help Yemen and its government within the framework of the article 51 of the UN charter.”
Al-Jubeir said that he had extensive discussions with UN secretary general on a range of issues including “on Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Islamophobia and counter-terrorism efforts.” In a question about support to Syria, the foreign minister expressed hope that “the global support for moderate Syrian opposition will continue.”
The foreign minister said he expected support for rebels in Syria to continue despite the fall of Aleppo to the Syrian government in December, but noted that any decision would be made as part of the US-led international coalition.
“We believe that the moderate opposition has an important role to play. We believe that they need to be able to defend themselves, as well as to fight against Daesh and Al Qaeda,” he said.
The foreign minister also said, “The US-Saudi relations have been strong for the last eight decades, during which we overcame several challenges.” He said that “we can see eye to eye with the US on the issue of Iran, on Syria, on Lebanon, on fight against Daesh and on Yemen.”
Al-Jubeir also described the Saudi-American relationship as “excellent,” continuing to signal warm ties with new administration of US President Donald Trump after visiting Washington and New York earlier this month.
UN chief Guterres said that the UN has concerns over the issues affecting the peace and security of the region as a whole. He appealed to the warring factions in Yemen not to hamper the relief efforts and the delivery of humanitarian aid. He also called for “inclusive reconciliation in Iraq,” while condemning Islamophobia and Islam bashing.
“Islamophobia” in parts of the world is fueling terrorism, said the UN chief adding that “one of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of Islamophobic feelings and Islamophobic policies and hate speeches. This is the best support that Daesh can have to make its own propaganda.”
The UN chief also spoke about the reforms of the UN, saying that the Kingdom will have to play a major role in any UN initiative.
Before wrapping up his visit to the Kingdom, Guterres visited the Riyadh-based King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, where he met with Adviser at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of the Center Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah.


Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

Updated 17 October 2019

Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

  • Intellectuals, diplomats discuss challenge of blending cultures, faiths and values

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The European envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for more tolerance and respect to help bring diverse societies closer together.

Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.

Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), the event gathered together top intellectuals, diplomats and scholars to debate the issues of tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance of others.

Opening the lecture at the King Faisal Foundation building in Riyadh, d’Urso spoke about tolerance and how it was core to the transformation of societies, especially in Europe which had become more diverse.

“Today’s European society is a mixture of cultures, faiths, values, ideas, and habits. The challenge is to make sure our society is more inclusive, enhance mutual understanding and promote tolerance and respect,” the envoy said.

He pointed to the UN’s blossoming partnership with the KFCRIS and the importance of the lecture as key building blocks in the process of bridging cultural and religious gaps between societies.

“I think there are few more teams that are exchanging on the Saudi and European perspectives of religious tolerance and diversity. All of us know that the KFCRIS builds from the legacy of the late King Faisal and has been a pillar in promoting Islam,” d’Urso added.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.
  • Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.
  • The director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

He noted that in Europe there were many people of faith that had respect for coexistence. 

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.

He said a state that respected others, human existence and brotherhood could not exist “unless there is respect for diversity and differences as a universal norm that no one can collide.”

According to Al-Issa, the Charter of Madinah (regarded as the first Islamic state constitution) was considered one of the best achievements of civil legislation in human history. “This document was held by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the Jews and represented binding legislation for Muslims toward religious minorities.”

The MWL chief noted that the document included the protection of civil and religious rights. “The document cannot be absorbed by extremism, it is clear. These rights and freedoms have been preserved by this legislation. And the Prophet Muhammad coexisted with everyone and understood these differences and diversity.”

In his speech, Al-Issa explained how the Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special name to celebrate their religious origins where they were called “people of the book,” in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The history of Christians and Jews was also never omitted.

Addressing the event, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

“We encounter such a diversity of ways of being Muslim from a theoretical, cultural, philosophical, ideological point of view. Any single Muslim group or community is represented somewhere in Europe and this situation puts European Muslims in a very unique environment which is different from any other Islamic majority society in the world,” said Privot.

He pointed out that for the first time in history Muslim groups from Uzbekistan and Senegal were living together and trying to become a community in European societies.

“Societies, which have completely liberalized the market of religions, believe all faiths are accepted,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, an MWL forum in Makkah recommended that Islamic discourse should adhere to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Muslims’ uppermost legislative sources, which are also known as the Two Divine Revelations.

The forum, titled “The Service of the Two Revelations,” called upon concerned authorities in the Muslim world to regulate Islamic fatwas in a way that prevented extremism and stopped producing any misguided explanations of the divinely revealed texts.

The participants also encouraged the use of modern technology, especially social media, to better serve the Qur’an and Sunnah to help link Muslim youths with the two revelations.

In addition, the gathering proposed establishing platforms for producing software and smart apps related to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the launch of an international service award under the umbrella of the MWL.

Al-Issa added that the MWL had staged a number of Qur’an memorization programs in 78 countries and said there were now 68 colleges and institutes where 7,500 students were studying the Qur’an.

“Some 61,275 Qur’an readers have graduated from these institutes, with 5,055 reciters having obtained authentic reading certificates. The IOQAS (International Organization of Qitab and Sunnah) has also carried out 193 training courses and provided nearly 3,000 scholarships,” he said.