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.


Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

Updated 26 May 2020

Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

  • People celebrating Eid alone or abroad find ways to stay positive

JEDDAH: For different reasons many people living in the Kingdom have found themselves alone for the holidays due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, their spirits dampened as they are forced to stay home alone, away from loved ones.

As the pandemic enters its third month in Saudi Arabia, flights have not yet resumed, strict social distancing and safety measures are still in place and curfews have been reimposed to curb the spread of the virus during the Eid holidays.

Many families are stranded in cities across the Kingdom, while Saudis studying and working abroad are either stuck or have chosen to spend summer where they are out of fear they will not be able to return and start their new semesters.

Some people were able to move in with their families and quarantine together, while others were deprived of that chance.

A number of Saudi nationals, including students, have been repatriated in the past couple of weeks while others are still waiting for their turn.

Yousef Al-Ayesh, a 21-year-old senior student at Arizona State University, has been at home since late March as a precautionary measure.

He said that Eid with his family in Jeddah was one event that everyone looked forward to all year long. Under normal circumstances the first three days of Eid would be filled with events — family dinners at night and beach excursions during the day. Although he would be sleep-deprived, he would still make the most of the little time he spent with his family due to his studies.

“With all that’s going on, it doesn’t even feel like it’s Eid,” he told Arab News. 

“It most probably would have been different if I was back in Saudi Arabia but I still wouldn’t have been able to celebrate it the same way. It’s not that bad here (in the US) now since restaurants have reopened and my friends and I have the outdoors to enjoy, have a barbecue, or just hang out. I would have felt worse if I was alone. Ramadan was already odd enough, I don’t think I would have been OK if it were the case without them.”

Although his family lives 8,000 miles away he did not feel alone as his group of friends decided to celebrate together, even without the perks of new clothes and eidiyas from aunts and uncles.

It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed

Al-Ayesh hoped to be repatriated to the Kingdom soon and spend some time with his family after his mandatory quarantine.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed, a 29-year-old expat working and living in Riyadh, said this year’s Eid was tough without his family.

Although he is used to living alone because of his job, Eid was the one occasion he looked forward to the most every year because he got to travel to Cairo and be with his family.

“My family moved from Jeddah to Cairo about four or five years ago and Eid is a significant occasion in the family, Eid Al-Fitr is significantly more special than Eid Al-Adha even,” he told Arab News. “I look forward to traveling to see them every year since moving to Riyadh but wasn’t able to with the lockdown, so we all got together on FaceTime video call and spent the whole day speaking to family members.”

Like many expats, Fareed has spent the past months at home and said it was hard for him and his family but that communication had made the ordeal slightly easier.

“It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way,” he added.