Vienna: Saudi Arabia to set up interreligious centre

Vienna: Saudi Arabia to set up interreligious centre

Foreign Ministers Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Michael Spindelegger of Austria and Trinidad Jimenez of Spain, from left, pose after signing the agreement for the establishment of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, KAICID, in Vienna, Austria, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Via the Austrian Times:
The Austrian Greens and moderate Muslims are infuriated after the Austrian foreign minister agreed with Saudi Arabian officials to set up an interreligious centre in Vienna.

Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger and high-ranking representatives from Spain and Saudi Arabia signed a contract sealing their intention to create such an institution in Vienna. The institution will be located at Schottenring in the heart of the Austrian capital. Both left-wing politicians and conservative media criticised the agreement for various reasons.


Austrian Greens official Alev Korun branded the project as "highly absurd". The only Muslim member of the federal parliament (MP) told Die Presse Spindelegger "must either be incredibly naive or only interested in business relations with Saudi Arabia." The left-winger accused the foreign minister of "closing both eyes" to breaches of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

The Austrian Initiative of Liberal Muslims (ILMÖ) said it feared integration would become more difficult for Muslims in Austria as the centre may strengthen "fundamentalist-conservative Islam" in the country.

Fuat Sanac, the new head of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ), said he welcomed the idea to locate such a centre in Vienna. Sanac said: "What’s wrong with starting a dialogue among different peoples?" The Turk claimed the establishment of the institution could improve the situation of Christians in Saudi Arabia.