CDHR’s Comment: At the opening of the Saudi-financed King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the Saudi head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, is reported to have said that the Center “…would promote human values, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people of different religious faiths and cultures.” His misleading speech was amplified by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Saud Al-Faisal, who said that, “the sectarian differences are to be elements for understanding and not elements for collision.”
The question that must be asked of Dr. Al-Sudais and Saud Al-Faisal is how they can go around the world promoting religious tolerance while at home they discriminate against their Muslim minorities and consider them heretics.
Saudi Arabia is the only country where non-Muslims cannot practice their religious rituals openly and if caught doing so privately, they can be punished and deported. “Peaceful coexistence” means live and let live regardless of cultures, compulsory dress codes, gender, ethnicity and above all beliefs.
Why have Dr. Al-Sudais and Saud Al-Faisal not condemned the endemic discrimination against Saudi religious minorities, oppression of women in the name of god, and complete intolerance of non-Muslims? Saudi officials and their apologists cannot fool the world anymore, thanks to modern technology and many courageous Saudi men and women who openly denounce their country’s religious extremism and discrimination against people because of their religious orientations and gender.