July 16: Saudi King Abdullah appealed for "constructive
dialogue" to end disputes between the world's major religions
as he opened an inter-faith conference in Madrid on Wednesday.
all believe in one god... We are meeting here today to say
that religions should be a means to iron out differences and
not to lead to disputes," he said in an inaugural speech
at the three-day World conference on Dialogue.
called for a "constructive dialogue to open a new page
to reconciliation after so many disputes."
conference is organised by the Muslim World League from an
initiative by King Abdullah, whose country hosts Islam's two
holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina.
200 participants are attending, including representatives
of the world's major religions.
them are the secretary general of the World Jewish Congress,
Michael Schneider, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is
responsible for dialogue between the Vatican and Muslims.
of the dialogue (between religions) has ended in failure...,"
King Abdullah said in the speech, delivered in Arabic. "To
succeed we must emphasise the common link between us which
is belief in God."
said religion could combat many of the problems of modern
the breakdown of families, drugs, exploitation of the weak
- all these are the consequences of a spiritual void."
event takes place against a backdrop of tensions between the
Islamic world and the West.
Arabia remains the only Arab Muslim country to ban all non-Islamic
religious practices on its soil.