Very interesting opinion article by Sabria S. Jawhar in the Saudi Gazette: She speaks of the interfaith conference recently held at the UN, with deep involvement of Saudi Arabia in general and King Abdullah in particular. One of the first things she mentions is that there were:
few unexpected surprises and [...] historic moments. Israeli President Shimon Perez made positive comments regarding the intent of King Abdullah’s efforts to bring about international dialogue of religious issues. He also spoke encouragingly about the Saudi-initiated 2002 Arab peace plan that would bring peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors in exchange for Israel returning to its pre-1967 borders.Oops... a frontal attack against those is Saudi Arabia who want no contacts with Israel! Sabria also mentions the request for churches to be built in Saudi Arabia, and she shows surprising openness to the concept.
It’s been my feeling all along, and I have stated this before, that most Saudis liken the Land of the Two Holy Mosques to the Vatican. We do not expect a mosque to be built inside the Vatican, so why must we consider placing a church in Jeddah or Riyadh.Surely, by making the building of churches in Saudi Arabia a matter of the whole umma, this is ducking the issue. At the same time, the suggestion is: if there is a broad consenses that it is okay to build churches in Saudi Arabia, so be it! Look HERE for the whole articles in the Saudi Gazette.
But having said that, Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal noted that it is up to Muslims to decide whether such public worship will be permitted.
“The Kingdom is the cradle of Islam and a country where millions of Muslims come every year to perform the Haj and the King is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Thus, the Kingdom is responsible for (reflecting) the desire and will of the Ummah worldwide,” Prince Saud said last week.