Thursday, 29 November 2012

Inauguration ceremony of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Dialogue Centre in Vienna

The Opening Ceremony of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Interreligious Intercultural Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) held in Vienna

Dr. Mozammel Haque

VIENNA: I came to Vienna, the capital of Austria, on Sunday, the 25th of November, 2012, to attend the inauguration opening ceremony of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna, Austria.

Official ceremonial opening
And Gala dinner at Hofburg Palace
The official ceremonial opening of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was held on Monday, the 26th of November 2012 and it was carried out by the Foreign Ministers of the three founding States, HRH Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, HE. Michael Spindelegger of the Republic of Austria and H.E. Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo of the Kingdom of Spain. It was witnessed by KAICIID’s Board of Directors, the Secretary General, H.E. Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar and the Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Claudia Bandion-Ortner.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew-1, gave the keynote address to a global audience of more than 600 guests at the Gala Dinner at the Hofburg Palace including ambassadors, government representatives, religious leaders, academics, and scholars. Non-governmental organisations, cultural institutions and other interested parties were also present. The Gala dinner was also addressed by the UN Secretary General, Ban-Ki-moon, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom of Spain, His Eminence Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican, Dr. Abdullah Mohsin Al-Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL).

Two personal video messages of congratulations and support were screened, one from King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, The Custodian of Two Holy Mosques and the other from King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

The Evening was characterized by a cordial coming together of followers of different religions and cultures, in a shared spirit of hope and resolve. Deep conversations with an exchange of experiences in interreligious and intercultural matters were enjoyed by the guests. Evening attendees took great inspiration from the potential of KAICIID and re-emphasized their commitment to a belief in new horizons for dialogue.

In addition to the ceremonial opening of the Centre, events on that historic day in the KAICIID journey included a Best Practice Symposium and afterwards a Gala Dinner, held at the Hofburg Palace.

Best Practice Symposium
At Hilton Hotel, Vienna
Earlier, The Best Practice Symposium was held during the day, from morning to afternoon, on the same say, on 26th of November at the Hilton Hotel, Vienna, Austria. There were four workshops, such as i) Conflict Management, ii) Cultural Programmes, iii) Youth and iv) Religious Education as Enabler. First and second were held simultaneously and Third and Fourth were held at the same time. So participants have to chose either First or Second and Third or Fourth. I attended the First and the Fourth Symposium workshop

Historical Background
In this connection, it may be mentioned that King Abdullah began this journey of his interfaith dialogue in 2005 in the Holy City of Makkah, when he called on all 57 Muslim heads of state to meet in Islam’s holiest city to ponder the issues of extremism and call for a Muslim renaissance. The King travelled to Vatican and met Pope Benedict in 2007 offering him peace and friendship on behalf of the Muslim world.

The following year, in June 2008, King Abdullah hosted a first historic Interfaith Dialogue Conference in Makkah al-Mukarramah where more than 500 Muslim religious scholars and leaders attended.  It was followed by a multi-religious conference in Madrid in July 2008, which was hosted by King Abdullah along with King Juan Carlos of Spain and attended by more than 300 representatives from Vatican, Anglican Church, Judaism, Hinduism and other faiths. Then King Abdullah took the interfaith dialogue to the global centre-stage at the UN.

The Secretary General of the Centre, HE Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar, stated, “It is my profound belief that this Centre can become 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. And I am convinced that KAICIID will within a short period of time; build a bridge for better mutual understanding, facilitating interreligious and intercultural dialogue to enhance cooperation, respect for diversity, justice and peace.”

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