Saudi Arabia: Interfaith Talks Abroad, Intolerance at Home

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy ] Simon Henderson and Jasmine El-Gamal - The global interfaith conference Saudi Arabia is organizing in Madrid this week, with more than 200 Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders from 54 countries expected to attend, could never happen in Saudi Arabia. Crucifixes and Christian bibles are confiscated from arriving visitors. Non-Muslim religious services have to be held in secret, and their participants are in constant fear of disruption, arrest, or deportation by Saudi religious police. Even though King Abdullah is considered a liberal, the term is relative; he publicly blamed a 2004 al-Qaeda attack, one that killed six Westerners, as being the work of "Zionists." The 85-year-old king's support for conciliatory policies may die with him. His most likely successor, Crown Prince Sultan, does not appear to share the king's tolerant approach.

2008-07-18 01:00:00

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