MADRID – King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, twice received a standing ovation Wednesday at the opening of the three-day World Conference on Dialogue in which he called for “constructive dialogue” to end disputes amongst the world’s major religions.
“We all believe in one God... We are meeting today to affirm that the religions that God Almighty desired for the happiness of man, should be a means to ensure that happiness,” the King said in an inaugural speech at the three-day World Conference on Dialogue.
“My brothers, we must tell the world that differences don’t need to lead to conflict and confrontation,” King Abdullah said, speaking through a Spanish interpreter. The tragedies throughout history were not the fault of religion but because of the extremism that has been adopted by some followers of all the religions, the King said.
More than 300 people of different faiths rose as one to applaud King Abdullah after he called for a “constructive dialogue” to “open a new page for humanity in which...concord will replace conflict.”
Seated next to each other in the Pardo Palace on the outskirts of Madrid were Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists from around the world.
As they gathered for the opening ceremony they were seen exchanging greetings and chatting in an atmosphere of friendship, tolerance and understanding, a sight quite unimaginable given the suspicion and mistrust that has marked inter-faith relationships in recent times.
The King said, “most of the past dialogues have failed because they have deteriorated into mutual recrimination focusing on and exaggerating differences in a sterile endeavor that exacerbated rather than mitigated tensions, or because they attempted to fuse religions and creeds on the pretext of bringing them closer together.”
“To succeed we must emphasize the common link between us which is a belief in God.”
Religion is the answer to solve the problems of modern society, the King said. “Man could be the cause of the destruction of this planet and everything in it. He is also capable of turning it into an oasis of peace and tranquility in which adherents of religions, creeds and philosophies could co-exist, and in which people could cooperate with each other in a respectful manner, and address problems through dialogue rather than violence.
“Man is also capable, by the grace of God, of vanquishing hatred through love, and bigotry through tolerance, thereby enabling all mankind to enjoy the dignity that the Almighty has bestowed upon all of them.”
“Let’s make our dialogue in support of faith in the face of atheism, virtue in the face of vice, justice in the face of injustice, peace in the face of conflicts, and brotherhood in the face of racism,” the King said.
Spanish King Juan Carlos in his speech expressed hope that the world conference on dialogue will support the respect of identities, beliefs, values and ethics which are common denominators among divine religions and various cultures and civilizations.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair and American civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson were among the attendees.
The secretary general of the Makkah-based MWL, Abdullah Al-Turki, said in his speech that one of the most significant goals of dialogue is to discuss the ways to counter the promotion of anarchy, moral degeneration and family disintegration.
“Let there be no preference of the Arab over the non-Arab or of the non Arab over the Arab, nor of the red skinned over the black skinned or the black skinned over the red skinned except by piety,” he said.