The King of Saudi Arabia opened a new interfaith centre in Vienna this week with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a keynote speaker.
The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) centre has board members from five major world religions including major leaders from the Muslim and Jewish faiths.
Mr Ban Ki-moon welcomed the centre’s “commitment to open the door to all world religions. I share with you the vision of religions as enabler of respect and reconciliation.”
Israeli board member Rabbi David Rosen praised King Abdullah as “a man of vision. He has already improved enormously the status of women in his country and really wants to advance the international image of Islam.
“Interfaith relations, knowledge and understanding are an important vehicle for bringing peace.
“The organisation would like to ensure that religion is part of the solution and not the problem. Shechita and brit milah are fundamental issues.”
Israeli citizens are not allowed to visit Saudi Arabia and Rabbi Rosen said: “If a meeting were held in Saudi Arabia and I were not invited, I feel quite sure my Christian and Muslim colleagues would not go without me.”
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s Rabbi Marc Schneier said the king had “created an interfaith project, something that was previously inconceivable. The journey of a Muslim-Jewish reconciliation has begun.”