Nov 27, 2012 No Comments ›› Infidel
(CNSNews.com) – A new Saudi-funded, Europe-based center for interreligious dialogue will be “a good medium to spread the message of Islam,” says the government-appointed imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque – a man who has stoked controversy in the past by calling Jews “monkeys and pigs” and Christians “cross worshippers.”
“The formation of this center in the West with King Abdullah’s support gives a strong message that Islam is a religion of dialogue and understanding and not a religion of enmity, fanaticism and violence,” the International Islamic News Agency quoted Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais as saying.
Sudais was reacting to the launch Monday of the new King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Lending international legitimacy to the Saudi king’s latest religious tolerance initiative, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among those who attended the opening.
In his remarks, Ban asserted that too many religious leaders have “stoked intolerance, supported extremism and propagated hate” rather than tolerance, adding, “We must all do better in reaching out across boundaries.”
The center’s first-day program included an inaugural symposium, during which the head of the Islamic bloc of nations accused non-Muslims of “Islamophobia” and urged Western governments to enact and enforce laws against it.
“Islamophobia leads to hate crimes and as such, it generates fear, feelings of stigmatization, marginalization, alienation and rejection,” said Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
“The net result is heightened anxiety and rising violence. Islamophobia is also an assault on people’s identity and their human dignity.”
According to an OIC statement on his address, Ihsanoglu proposed actions to remedy the situation:
“[T]he West must define hate crimes broadly and address the information deficit as well as enact adequate legislation and implement this legislation effectively. In conjunction with national legislation, they should also implement international commitments and agreed norms.”
The OIC has set up an “observatory” to monitor Islamophobia, which it also defines as a contemporary form or racism.
The observatory’s most recent annual report, released this month, covers incidents including Qur’an burning in Afghanistan and Florida, and the U.S. House Homeland Committee’s hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community, and the notorious YouTube video denigrating Mohammed.
‘Freedom of religion severely restricted in practice’
The opening of the KAICIID has not been without controversy in Austria, where some have questioned the appropriateness of a religious tolerance initiative being funded by a regime that prohibits churches. One liberal Muslim group in Austria said the center would be used to spread the kingdom’s Wahhabi brand of Islam.