King Abdullah opens World Conference on Dialogue

July 16, 2008

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz today called on people of different faiths to focus on their shared values and reject extremism.

The King made the remarks in an opening address at the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid, Spain. Participants at the three-day event include major figures from Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism and Confucianism.

“If we wish this historic meeting to succeed, we must focus on the common denominators that unite us, namely, deep faith in God, noble principles, and lofty moral values, which constitute the essence of religion,” King Abdullah said.

The King also urged people of the world to reject extremism and embrace reconciliation.

“It is therefore incumbent upon us to declare to the world that difference must not lead to conflict and confrontation, and to state that the tragedies that have occurred in human history were not attributable to religion, but were the result of extremism with which some adherents of every divinely revealed religion, and of every political ideology, have been afflicted.”

As a result of a spiritual void, humanity is facing numerous crises, including growing crime, terrorism, drug abuse, a disintegration of the family and exploitation of the poor, the King said.

“There is no solution for us other than to agree on a united approach, through dialogue among religions and civilizations,” he noted.

“Let our dialogue be a triumph of belief over disbelief, of virtue over vice, of justice over iniquity, of peace over conflicts and wars, and of human brotherhood over racism.”

The conference is focusing on four major themes: The importance of dialogue in human society; the foundations of religious and civilizational dialogue; the common human aspects in dialogue; and the evaluation and promotion of dialogue.

The Madrid conference follows a dialogue among Islamic scholars that took place in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in June.