Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Saudi-Backed Interreligious Center Opens In Austria

Yesterday, the inauguration ceremony marking the official opening of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) was held in Vienna, Austria, the Centre's home base.  Among those speaking at the opening ceremony was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (full text of remarks). As reported by Reuters, KAICIID was launched by Saudi Arabia as an international organization with a multi-faith board to foster interfaith understanding and help deal with health crises. According to the Huffington Post, the Centre is backed by an international treaty signed by Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia, with support from the Vatican. Saudi Arabia is funding the start-up costs and the first 3 years' budgets. Some in Austria, as well as some Saudi dissidents, are critical of the Centre, fearing that it will focus on the strict Wahhabi version of Islam. It is expected that the Centre's board will eventually hold a meeting in Saudi Arabia, which will pose the question of whether the nation will allow board member Rabbi David Rosen, who is an Israeli citizen, to attend.