Saudi King Calls for Interfaith Dialogue

March 25, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: AP

King Abdullah is calling for a dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews, the first such proposal from this strictly Muslim kingdom at a time of mounting tensions between followers of Islam and those of other religions.

In a speech late Monday, Abdullah said the country's top clerics gave him the green light to pursue his idea. Their backing is crucial in a religiously conservative society that expects decisions taken by its rulers to adhere to Islam's tenets.

The monarch, whose kingdom follows a severe interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism and bans non-Muslim religious services and symbols, said he discussed the idea with Pope Benedict XVI when they met at the Vatican last year.