Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sticking Points In Saudi Arabia's Interfaith Conference In Madrid

It started off Wednesday. The AP reported:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was kicking off an interfaith conference in Madrid on Wednesday — an effort to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews closer together amid a world that often puts the three faiths at odds.

...The three-day Madrid conference boasts a number of Jewish religious figures, including David Rosen, a prominent Irish-Israeli rabbi whose presence is being hailed as a sign the Saudis are serious about reaching out.
So far, so good--but already questions are being raised:
o Rabbi Rosen is Israeli, but you would never know it since there is no mention of that fact in the conference literature.

o Among the non-Israeli rabbis invite is Rabbi David Weiss of Neturei Karta, which claims that the creation of Israel violates Jewish religious law.

o Critics claim the Saudis are the last people who should be hosting a meeting on religious tolerance since the strain of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Saudi Arabia--Wahhabism--is considered one of the most extreme. Signs dictate where non-Muslims are forbidden to travel, and it is believed that one of the reasons for the conference being held in Madrid is because of the issue of having Jewish and Christian leaders on Saudi soil.

Steve Emerson points out another problem:
In an ironic twist, an international interfaith conference set to start Wednesday in Madrid was organized by a man accused of working with a senior Al Qaeda financier and who unabashedly supports Palestinian suicide bombings.

Abdullah al-Turki is organizing the conference on behalf of the Muslim World League (MWL), where he is secretary general. The MWL was created by the Saudi royal family in 1962 to "promote Islamic unity" and spread Wahhabi doctrine. Wahhabism is an austere form of Islam that seeks to realize the faith as it was practiced by Muhammad and his Companions, barren of the innovations and traditions that arose in the centuries since.

The conference is expected to attract more than 100 people from more than 50 countries. But it is a previous Madrid venture by al-Turki that raises questions about the conference. In 1999, al-Turki was a partner in a Madrid construction project with a senior Al Qaeda financier, a pending lawsuit claims. Profits from that deal were routed to Al Qaeda cells, according to allegations in WTC Properties v. Al Baraka et. al.

The lawsuit argues that, without the financial support from the banks, charities and other entities targeted, the 9/11 attacks may not have taken place. Similar allegations were made in at least three other lawsuits. In court papers, Al Turki has disputed the lawsuit's allegations and has argued that none of his actions were intended to support terrorist activities.

A full list of all those invited is available online.

Muslims have trouble enough reaching concensus among themselves--can Muslims reach a concensus with other religions?

Wouldn't that first and foremost for Saudis to accept people of other religions on an equal footing and not as dhimmis?

Seems that 3 days will hardly be enough time for them to learn each others names...

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