Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Secretary General for the New York-based World Conference of Religions for Peace [WCRP], and which is the largest international coalition of representatives of international religions in the world, rejected the public call made by a Church in the state of Florida for an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, saying that this was a dangerous act to deliberately insult what is holy to the Muslims.
In a speech delivered to the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue whose headquarters is in Riyadh, WCRP Secretary General Dr. William F. Vendley said that all believers of different religions all across the world are relying upon the leadership role being played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and his support to promote dialogue and cooperation amongst all believers, which was an initiative that was adopted by the King and was welcomed and appreciated by everybody.
In the speech that discussed the threat made by the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Dr. Vendley said that this was wrong and dangerous, and aims to insult the Muslim holy book.
Dr. Vendley stressed that the heads of Christian denominations all across the globe, and all true believers of all religions reject this kind of religious manipulation and stand against this outrage and injustice against Muslims and Islam. In his speech, Vendley also said that the vast majority of Christians are saddened by this disgraceful threat that makes it appear as if the Christians are calling for disrespecting Islam, which is categorically untrue.
Dr. Vendley also expressed his regret over such actions and threats, saying that every religious group is vulnerable to this kind of attack, in which extremisms use religion to attack others and feel successful if able to create tension and polarization over religious issues and incite the community to attack other religions. Vendley said that it is up to all believers from all religions to defend one another outside of their religious communities, and it is also important that religious leaders and believers of different religions stand together in solidarity against those wanting to cause offense, and that this might be the only cure against extremism. In his speech at the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, Vendley stressed that it was not just Muslims, but all believers of all religions in all parts of the world that rely upon the leadership role that is being played by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. He said that there is a great need to support King Abdullah’s initiative to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation, and said that there was great public appreciation of the King’s initiative.
Dr. Vendley also said that the WCRP provided initial support and cooperation for a number of reasons over the past forty years, and a number of prominent Saudi figures have been involved in the WCRP leadership. Since the WCRP was established in 1970, Vendley said that religious leaders of the largest religions in the world have worked side by side for peace in more than 100 countries, working to mediate civil wars, and using local mosques, churches, and temples to treat the injured and give aid to the poor regardless of their religion. Vendley confirmed that the religious leaders who are members of the WCRP stand together in their rejection of religious defamation, and that these religious leaders have grown to respect and trust one another. Vendley said that there is a need for qualities such as this, especially in light of the attempts made by religious extremists to defame and offend others by engaging in illegitimate and undignified behavior.
The Secretary General of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, Faisal Bin Muammar, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the WCRP statement was evidence of the international appreciation of the goals of the initiative by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz for interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Muammar also said that this was evidence that humane societies must combine their efforts in order to reduce extremist ideas behavior that are offensive to human relations in terms of respecting other people’s religions.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Faisal Bin Muammar, who is also the Deputy Education Minister, stressed that the holy Quran is well-preserved by God and in the hearts of Muslim believers, and that the wise in humane societies and cultures disapprove of and condemn extremist behaviors and statements, or statements that incite against others. He added that this attitude only reflects extremisms views that are doomed to failure, and do not find acceptance amongst rational societies that respect the beliefs of others.
Deputy Minister Faisal Bin Muammar, the Secretary General of the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue, who is also the supervisor general of King Abdulaziz Public Library in Riyadh, commended the position taken by WCRP Secretary General Dr. William F. Vendley. Muammar informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this reflects the spirit of moderation and restraint consistent with the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz for inter-faith dialogue.
The Dove World Outreach Center, which is a nondenominational Church in Florida has called for an “International Burn a Quran Day” on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center has attacked Islam, claiming that it is not a peaceful religion, but rather that it is “of the devil” and that all Muslims are going to hell. He has called for Quran’s to be burned on 11 September to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.