Muslim World League chief: Dialogue key to tackling Islamophobia

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Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa said we must clarify the true picture of Islam and Muslims. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
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MWL chief talked of the importance of dialogue in tackling Islamophobia. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
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MWL chief talked of the importance of dialogue in tackling Islamophobia. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)
Updated 03 December 2019

Muslim World League chief: Dialogue key to tackling Islamophobia

  • Some far-right people are against Islam “because of what they’ve heard or seen”

RIYADH: On the first day of the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh, the secretary-general of the Muslim World League on Monday stressed the importance of dialogue in tackling Islamophobia.

“There are many different far rights. Many of them have it implanted that they just hate Muslims without a reason. It may be difficult, but discussion is key and has fruitful outcomes,” said Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa.

“As Muslims and Islamic organizations, we must clarify the true picture of Islam and Muslims.”

He said negative campaigns against Islam are being led by the far right. “We had sessions with people who hated Islam, but now we call them good friends after our transparency and discussions with them. Therefore, discussion is pertinent,” Al-Issa said.

Some far-right people are against Islam “because of what they’ve heard or seen,” he added. “These people are much easier to have a discussion with (than those who do not have a reason for their prejudice). They’re found in a lot of European countries.”

Other far-right people “respect Muslims and live with them, but worry about the outcomes” of immigration and demographic changes, Al-Issa said.

One issue that has led to difficulties in terms of coexistence is that some Islamic laws are not applicable in non-Muslim countries, he added.

“We urge everyone who lives in a country to respect its laws, culture and constitution,” said Al-Issa, adding that “the media plays an important role” in promoting Islamophobia, as do movies. He said the answer is to raise awareness.


LA Italian eatery Madeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

Updated 15 December 2019

LA Italian eatery Madeo delights the palate in Riyadh Season pop-up

  • Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one

RIYADH: Renowned Italian restaurant Madeo has opened up in Al-Murabba for Riyadh Season. 

The pop-up has started brightly, and head chef Gianni Vietina invited Arab News to sample the menu and chat about his experience.

Vietina, in Saudi Arabia for the first time, said that he loved the location he had set up in, and was very happy to be opening up in the Kingdom. 

“The location is gorgeous. At night, with all the lights on, the music going, it’s very nice.”

Despite minor setbacks he faced while setting up, Vietina considers the experience to be a positive one and that the response was even better than he had expected. 

“Like anything new, you have quests, you have problems. Up to now, we’re doing pretty good. We are up and running. We’re comfortable now, which is a shame as we’re leaving pretty soon,” he said.

He added that he would repeat the experience in a heartbeat if he could: “They were nice enough to ask me to stay in Saudi a little longer, but I can’t. I need to go back home. But I would love to come back.”

He said that while he was not planning to open up a permanent restaurant in Saudi Arabia, he would not rule it out completely.  “I’ve been offered options, and friends have offered to show me locations while I’m here, but I can’t do it right now, I just opened a new restaurant two months ago,” he said.

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like.”

Gianni Vietina, Head chef of Madeo

The pop-up’s menu contains most of what the original restaurant offers, including his ever-popular penne madeo and spaghetti bolognese, with the chefs using a combination of imported and locally sourced ingredients. 

“I chose the dishes that I know that most of the Saudis that visit my restaurant in Los Angeles like,” he told Arab News.

For the pop-up, Vietina has stuck to using halal and alcohol-free ingredients. 

“It was challenging at the beginning. But the bolognese at Madeo doesn’t contain pork, and I realized after we tried cooking without wine that almost nothing changed. I actually prefer it,” he said.

Madeo is a favorite of Saudis visiting Los Angeles, with Vietina going so far as to describe the restaurant as a “Little Riyadh” on most evenings between July and September. 

He even recognizes some of the customers who have come into the Riyadh pop-up, and always stops over to greet them.

Upon sampling the menu, it’s easy to see why the food at Madeo has remained popular all these years. 

The eggplant parmigiana is a perfect blend of crusty cheese and silky smooth eggplant, with hints of basil and rosemary. 

The bolognese is rich, meaty and decadent, without being too heavy and greasy. And the penne madeo, which Vietina has been eating since his childhood, is a timeless classic of crushed tomato, basil, finished off with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano for a creamy, rich flavor.