Participants’ Point of View-2
KAICIID: Global Hub on Dialogue to enhance
cooperation, respect for diversity, justice and peace
Dr. Mozammel Haque
The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was opened at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna, on Monday, the 26th of November, 2012, in the presence of a global audience of almost 800 guests, including ambassadors, government representatives, religious leaders, academics and scholars.
Participants’ Point of View
In the evening of the Inauguration ceremony of KAICIID at Hofburg Palace, Vienna, on 26th November, 2012, most of the leaders of different religions of the world; representatives from the Churches of Christianity, representatives of the Jewish communities with all their backgrounds from the East and the West, the Hindus and the Buddhists; the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Vatican representative Cardinal Tauran, representative from the King of Spain and the President of Austria, three Foreign Ministers of the three founding states, Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain were at the opening ceremony.
I had the opportunity to interview participants at the opening ceremony of KAICIID and enquire their point of view about the Centre. While interviewing, I had tried my level best to give wide representation in my interview from the religious, regional and continental perspective.
Reverend Kyoichi Sugino from
the Religion for Peace International
Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General of the Religion for Peace International, New York, who greatly admired Dr. Abdullah Mohsin al-Turki, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL) whom he met in a meeting organised by ASEAN in Bangkok, Thailand recently and hosted by MWL, said, “Dr. Turki met both Muslim and Buddhist leaders at Patani, southern part of Thailand in the Buddhist temple and in the Buddhist school and also visited universities.
“It is important that King Abdullah’s initiative is now spreading across the globe and the Religion for Peace and the Muslim World League are working together,” he said and added, “The most important thing is religious dialogue and collaboration to continue; we need interreligious mechanism; mechanisms of collaboration. So this centre KAICIID receives one of those instruments.”
“Two important things, one is how to strengthen interreligious mechanisms at the national level, continental level and international level. And how we bring all these experiences together and concretely,” said Rev. Sugino.
He also said, “I think this centre’s initiative is important. King Abdullah’s leadership in this field is extremely well received by other places and Religion of Peace.”
Former State Senator Larry Shaw
Larry Shaw was a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly. Former state Senator Larry Shaw said, “It is just a realisation of the dream of the journey. Now a real journey begins. It is now time to stop and reflect upon where we come from and what lies ahead. We have to think about the possibilities of all possibilities.”
“The dialogue is the key to begin in the process. Keep it fresh; keep it vibrant; by keeping openness about itself,” Mr. Shaw said.
Baba Jain, Secretary General of the
World Council of leaders
Baba Jain, Secretary General of the World Council of leaders, said, “I think amongst all the initiatives this one has a maximum potential to succeed. Why? Because it has a name of His Majesty behind it and he is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques which nobody else has. God bless him. His Majesty is taken this step; he is reaching out to the others. I think others have to see that what a historic step this has been and now they are making it a reality.” Jain said.
Recalling what he said in a few years ago at Kazakhstan Forum, Baba Jain said, “I would like to state this: I think if this centre takes the leadership initiative under the patronage of the three governments together jointly with a Vatican, together jointly, and they ask each government each country create a centre for dialogue; every country a centre for dialogue, people from all walks of life; from all sectors can come together to resolve the differences.”
This time Baba Jain also repeated his statement which he told me at Madrid in 2008. Baba Jain said, “I repeat that and even now I am saying I said this earlier that I think Noble Peace Prize Committee would be wise to give him (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz) the Noble Peace Prize. He does not need it; but to give this initiative recognition; give this initiative to the Muslims to support and specially the conservative support to His Majesty, that would be a wonderful step.”
Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, former President of the
Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University
Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, former President of the Jeddah-based King Abdulaziz University and present Secretary General of the Cairo-based International Islamic Council for Daw’ah and Relief (IICDR), said, “Dialogue is part of the Islamic Shari’ah; because if you read the Qur’an or read the history of the Prophet (peace be upon him) you will find that that was the communication of every two parties to convince them that there are better language to achieve goals. So dialogue is not strange for Islam.”
“The opening of the Centre was very great,” said Dr. Naseef and mentioned that we have seen presence of all Churches of Christianity, Jewish with all their backgrounds from the East and the West, the Hindus and the Buddhists and everybody was there during the opening ceremony and also at the seminars which were held just two hours before that.
Dr. Naseef said, “The opening ceremony shows that there was a great interest; not only interest people want to be involved; they want to promote dialogue and they accepted the idea that the centre which was established with the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz idea promotion and finance is really going to happen.”
Referring to the speeches and the commitments of the board of directors and the secretary general Faisal bin Muammar, Dr. Naseef said that there is a clear vision in their mind and there is great dedication that they will continue. “This centre should not be a symbolic; it will really be a think-tank which can be an operation theatre,” he said.
Speaking about the future of the Centre, Dr. Naseef said, “As it goes through in the future, it will attract new ideas, new programmes and new people and it will help to promote idea among the young people to be involved and to adhere to the dialogue between religions because the old generation is going out and they have something in their backgrounds.”
Dr. Ahmad S. Turkistani
Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau
Professor Dr. Ahmad S. Turkistani, Director, Department of Cultural Affairs, Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau, London, said, “This is the first international global centre for interreligious intercultural dialogue. First of all, it combines religion and culture; interreligious intercultural. There are some projects taken by the head of state but not as big as this one. Some countries tried to do something.”
There will be many challenges before the Centre, but it has to find solutions. Speaking about the work of the Centre, Dr. Turkistani said, “This is what the centre is expected to do is to work on resolving problems, removing obstacles, managing crisis, dealing with conflicts and hopefully we can do something; at least put with representation of all the major religions and intellectual cultural orientations of the world. I am sure the centre will respond to all the needed developments and work on this.”
“I think one of the greatest news said on the opening evening UNICEF and Religion for Peace has started working,” mentioned Dr. Turkistani.
“I feel the most important thing is that this one has the support of the religious establishments in the world. We saw the Rabbi, the Archbishop, the Catholics, the Vatican - all these people are giving this centre the full support and their prayers and hopefully this will materialise into support.”
Dr. Hamad al-Majed, one of the
Trustees of the KAICIID
Speaking about the uniqueness of this centre, Dr. Hamad al-Majed, one of the Trustees of the KAICIID, said, “What is so unique about this centre is that this is the first initiative which has been put forward by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques from Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with other religious organisations. This is why the big representations of other religions took it seriously. They think Saudi Arabia is there and it will help a lot.”
In the past two decades, the violence has accelerated and religion was given a bad name. Dr. Al-Majed said, “This centre has to prove that religion is the solution; it is not the problem.”
Dr. Al-Majed also wanted to send a frank message to some Arab countries which think that to sit with the Christians and the Jews you come to give up your own belief, he said, “that is not true”. “I can sit with you on the common ground. One of the major things that we can work on commonality, pollution, climate, racial discrimination, homosexuality, all these things and also on some human values,” he said.
Dr. Abdullah Saleh Obaid
Former Saudi Minister of Education
Former Saudi Minister of Education and also former Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Abdullah Saleh al-Obeid, said, “First of all, I would like to thank King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue for the arrangement of this conference. I hope this centre will bring people, human beings of different religions, different languages and different thoughts together to build peace and harmony in the whole world.”
“I think Muslims all around the world need to be in touch with the other people to explain that there are situations to know each other and to inform other people about Islam; about its message of justice, peace and human dignity,” said Dr. al-Obeid.
HE Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar
Secretary General of KAICIID
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.”