Saturday, 24 November 2012

King Abdullah International Interfaith Dialogue Centre opens in Vienna

King Abdullah International Interfaith
Dialogue Centre opens in Vienna

Dr. Mozammel Haque

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

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 bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL), and Bartholomew-1, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will all convene amid a gathering of eminent religious, civic and political leaders from around the world.

These personalities are coming together to attend the opening of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in Vienna.

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was founded to enable, empower and encourage dialogue among followers of different religions and culture around the world.

Located in Vienna, a city long used to being a bridgehead between world religions and cultures, the Centre is an independent, international organisation, free of political or economic influence.  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of Austria and Kingdom of Spain are the Founding States of the Centre and these constitute the “Council of Parties” responsible for overseeing the establishment of the Centre. The Holy See has a role as a Founding Observer.

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.”

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.

Inauguration Ceremony
The Inauguration Ceremony takes place on 26th of November 2012 at the Hofburg Vienna. Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, his All Holiness Bartholomew 1 will deliver the Keynote Speech of the Ceremony followed by the formal Signature of the KAICIID Affirmation by the Board of Directors. The musical premiere of a special Dialogue Composition will also be presented.

Its Programme
The programme of the KAICIID will be announced at the Opening Ceremony. The Three-KAICIID programmes will start from January 2013 which are as follows: “Multi-religious Collaboration for the Survival and Wellbeing of Children”, “The Image of the Other” and “KAICIID Fellows Programme”.

Multi-religious Collaboration for the Survival and Wellbeing of Children: a major capacity-building initiative aimed at empowering religious leaders, congregations, faith-based institutions and individuals across diverse faith traditions to promote the survival and wellbeing of children in several priority countries.

The Image of the Other: a series of Conferences with themes including Education, Media and the Internet, aimed at exploring ways to improve perceptions of the Other.

KAICIID Fellows Programme: The establishment of a KAICIID Fellowship programme for future teachers of religion and future religious leaders with a deep commitment to interreligious or intercultural dialogue.

Its Role
The Centre will act as a hub among followers of different religions and cultures, empowering others already working in the field of dialogue and promoting harmony and cooperation.

Its Strategic Objectives
Generate, develop and disseminate knowledge in the area of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, cultivation and promotion of respect for differences through dialogue, and create bridges, address conflict and promote collaboration amongst diverse groups.

The Board of Directors comprises high-level representatives of the major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism). An Advisory Forum of up to 100 members of other religions, cultural institutions and international organisations will provide a further resource of interreligious and intercultural perspective.

The KAICIID Secretariat is headed by a Secretary General, H.E. Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar and Deputy Secretary General Mrs. Claudia Bandion-Ortner.

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