Muslim leader calls for tolerance at opening of new Islamic center in France

MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa inaugurates the French Institute of Islamic Civilization in Lyon. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 27 September 2019

Muslim leader calls for tolerance at opening of new Islamic center in France

  • Al-Issa pointed out that Islam respected human rights and freedoms within the framework of its legislation

LYON: The head of the Muslim World League (MWL) called for further efforts to promote religious and cultural tolerance at the opening of a new Islamic center in France.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the French Institute of Islamic Civilization in Lyon, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa stressed the importance of dialogue and cultural exchange in breaking down barriers and fighting extremism.

The MWL’s secretary-general said highlighting and working on shared values was vital in strengthening links of human brotherhood to reduce negative gaps between peoples and nations.

“With the civilized transcendence of Islam, there is a need to respect the constitutions and regulations of the countries in which we reside,” said Al-Issa.

He appealed for tolerance, positive coexistence and the building of bridges of friendship between people and warned of the dangers of political groups that used religion as a cover to achieve authoritarian goals, especially through the use of disinformation to recruit young people.

“These groups seek to use Islam, symbol of mercy, morals, peace, values and civilizational principles in their highest form, to achieve their political ambitions and narrow views, loaded with violent extremism or terrorism,” he added.

Al-Issa pointed out that Islam respected human rights and freedoms within the framework of its legislation.

Also in attendance at the opening ceremony was French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner who thanked Al-Issa for his comments and description of France as a country that promoted integration, stability and mutual respect.

The minister said that the institute represented a challenge to understanding and respect and reflected an accurate vision of Islam as a religion that accepted other cultures and supported dialogue and tolerance.

He also expressed pride at the strong lines of communication between Muslims and the French government and said the city of Lyon was a symbol of dialogue in the country.

Later, Al-Issa, Castaner and the Mayor of Lyon Gerard Collomb toured the institute which is equipped with the latest technology. It consists of five floors and a large conference hall and will offer courses in Islamic civilization in various languages, including Arabic and French. Collomb said the institute would help to educate non-Muslims about Islamic cultural heritage.

The MWL partnered with the French government to help establish the new institute in Lyon.

Earlier, Al-Issa met with the president of the Institute of Islamic Civilization, Kamel Kabtan, and discussed ways to promote a culture of tolerance and dialogue, and combat hatred and violence.

New projects aim to share Saudi human-rights successes with the world

Updated 16 July 2020

New projects aim to share Saudi human-rights successes with the world

  • Initiatives aim to highlight historic reforms and promote more accurate international view of Kingdom’s efforts to improve human rights
  • Human Rights Commission also aims to enhance cooperation with organizations working in the field in other countries

RIYADH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) has launched three international initiatives to highlight the success of recent reforms implemented by the Kingdom, and enhance its cooperation with other organizations working in the field.

“(Saudi Arabia) has witnessed historic transformations and qualitative moves in human rights, as more than 70 reform decisions in the field were issued under the directives of King Salman and under the direct leadership and tireless follow-up of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Awwad Al-Awwad, the president of the HRC.

He described the reforms as a success story, and said the commission will work to highlight the achievements around the world.

At the forefront of this effort is the launch of the HRC’s International Communication Program, as part of which representatives of civil-society institutions will be invited to participate in commission meetings and international human-rights events. In addition, young national leaders will be trained to enhance the representation of the Kingdom in human-rights organizations worldwide.

The HRC considers that the program presents an important opportunity to educate and inform international partners and the public about the unprecedented steps Saudi Arabia is taking to meet international standards of human rights and its achievements to that end. It also provides a mechanism that will enable the country to develop its relationship with the international community and highlight developments and reforms.

Al-Awwad also announced the launch of the HRC International Platform, which will focus on sharing English-language information and data reflecting the progress made in safeguarding human rights in the Kingdom. This will include direct interaction with the public on social media.

The third new initiative is a monthly, English-language newsletter featuring information about the latest human-rights reforms and developments in Saudi Arabia, including efforts being made to promote and protect them. A mailing list has also been created that includes more than 500 prominent human-rights campaigners around the world. The newsletter and other HRC publications will be sent to them to enhance communication and interaction, and keep them informed of human-rights initiatives in the Kingdom.

Al-Awwad said that the new initiatives are designed to reveal the true state of human rights in the Kingdom, which has undergone unprecedented development at all levels in the past few years. They will also improve communication and encourage positive relationships with human-rights campaigners and organizations in other countries, he added, in an effort to correct misconceptions that have formed for many reasons, not least the absence until now of accurate information.

The HRC has already produced the first issue of its newsletter, which highlighted the Kingdom’s improved ranking in the latest edition of the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which was published in June. It praised the efforts being made by Saudi authorities to crack down on human trafficking through a series of reforms, the most recent of which was the launch of the national referral mechanism. This was strengthened by a Saudi-international training partnership, organized through the International Organization for Migration and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and a Saudi-US partnership to combat human trafficking.

The newsletter also reported on the Kingdom’s efforts to tackle terrorism, which undermines and threatens human rights. In addition, it included information about penal reforms, and the Supreme Court’s decision to abolish flogging as a punishment in ta’zir cases — in which, under Sharia, punishment is at the discretion of the judge or ruler — and replace it with imprisonment and/or a fine.