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Saudi Arabia joins new centre for religious dialogue


VIENNA (SE): The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue opened in Vienna, Austria, on November 27, as a joint venture among the governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria.

The Vatican, as a founding observer, was represented at the inauguration ceremony by Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The cardinal said at the opening ceremony, “The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue presents another opportunity for open dialogue on many issues, including those related to fundamental human rights, in particular religious freedom in all its aspects, for everybody, for every community, everywhere.”

The cardinal warned that the new centre is being scrutinised by the eyes of the whole world, as it has high expectations for it.

“We are being watched,” he said. “The world expects honesty, vision and credibility from this new initiative.”

Over 600 people were present for a symposium exploring best practices over a broad array of topics, ranging from interfaith dialogue and conflict management to cultural initiatives and the hopes of and challenges faced by young people, religious education and dialogue processes.

The general secretary of the new venture, Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar, described the centre as “a place of leadership and applied learning; a place where candid dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures can flourish, so that we can value and cherish the richness of our diversity and live together as good neighbours.”

He added that the people involved in setting up the centre are aware of the rich history of the spot where it will operate, as it was where the Polish forces under King Jan III Sobieski, broke through and lifted the siege of Vienna imposed by the Ottoman army in September 1683, the last time the empire threatened a western city.


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