Islam in Interfaith Dialogue: Saudi-Backed Interfaith Centre Opens in Vienna

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (at podium, on right) addresses the inauguration ceremony of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Austria (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

A new Saudi-backed interfaith centre has opened in Vienna, Austria. The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), named after Saudi King Abdullah, aims to build bridges between faiths. There are nine board members, three Muslims, three Christians, a Jew, a Buddhist, and a Hindu. According to Reuters, the centre “plans to work first on improving how religions are presented in media and schoolbooks, involving faith leaders in children’s health campaigns in poor countries and hosting religious leaders for fellowships at its Vienna headquarters.”

Read the full story here.

There are critics of the centre; many wondering how an interfaith centre backed by the Saudi money could not have ulterior motives. Writes Reuters, “The Green Party said Austria was naive to think Saudi Arabia, which has financed many mosques espousing the austere Wahhabi form of Islam in Europe, had no ulterior motives in paying for the centre’s headquarters and first 3 years’ budget. KAICIID officials say the centre is independent and would not be promoting any one religion.”

What is your response to this? Do you cry, “Foul! This promotes too much tolerance”? Or do you see this an opportunity for Christians to build relationships with those around them, including Saudi Muslims?

For more details on what KAICIID aims to accomplish, read the full story here.

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