OIC counter-extremist center reaches 54m people on social media

02/12/19

  • The center is considered the intellectual branch of the OIC in its fight against extremist speech

JEDDAH: The Sawt Al-Hikma Center (Voice of Wisdom) at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has reached 54 million people around the world through social media, distributing messages in three different languages: Arabic, English and French.

The center is considered the intellectual branch of the OIC in its fight against extremist speech. It was established in 2016 at the OIC’s headquarters to work on using media platforms to dismantle extremism, reveal its religious and intellectual concepts, call for tolerance and co-existence and reflect the true spirit of Islam.

Since its establishment, the center has focused its efforts on cyberspace, as the internet has become fertile ground for violent ideas and an environment that helps extremists spread their poison.

The center has launched 11 pages on social media, in three languages, publishing content prepared by specialists to deal with calls for extremism and violence in the name of religion and to challenge Islamophobia and those trying to distort Islam.

The center added that it has also worked on combatting extremist ideologies on the ground through conferences in Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the UAE. The symposiums have focused on examining and fighting terrorism, promoting intellectual security and spreading the values of tolerance and acceptance.

Now it has launched a new initiative: The “Samahet Din” (tolerance of religion) contest of short videos, to encourage young men and women to express themselves on camera.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi interfaith center allocates $1.7 million for initiatives to counter hate speech

Time: November 02, 2019

KAICIID Secretary-General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar speaks during the press conference in Vienna. (SPA)

RIYADH: The secretary-general of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, announced that the center will allocate approximately €1.5 million ($1.7 million) for initiatives aimed at combating hate speech through the center’s global programs in 2020, in partnership with UN and global organizations and through its five platforms in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Arab world.

This came during the joint press conference accompanying the international meeting, organized by KAICIID under the title “The role of religion, media and policies in combating hate speech” in the presence of the members of the board of directors of the center and the assistant secretary-general of the UN and the acting adviser on the file of combating hate, Adama Dieng.

“The center aims to enhance the positive role of religious leaders and their institutions in countering hate speech and contributing to social cohesion at local and regional levels. To this end, I can announce that KAICIID is investing nearly €1.5 million in 2020 toward the implementation of the recommendations and action plan agreed by this conference,” Bin Muaammar said.

The initiatives will include social media campaigns against hate speech and training for vulnerable groups such as women and people seeking refuge to counter the phenomenon, support for existing efforts and help in launching new national initiatives to counter hate speech and a tailored training program for media experts, journalists and social media influencers on the responsible use of their channels.

The center will be investing a significant amount into gathering and presenting polling data to help inform and shape its programs while at the same time improving its contribution to discussions at policy-making levels.

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Saudi Arabia working for promotion of ‘true image of Islam’

29/10/19

The signing ceremony was attended by Albanian and Saudi officials. (SPA)

Al-Asheikh: “Saudi Arabia has suffered a lot from terrorism and terrorists, fueled by Iran … There are many groups acting under their (Tehran’s) guidance and in accordance with their plans”
Saudi Arabia and Albania on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the field of Islamic work.
The signing ceremony was attended by Albanian and Saudi officials. The MoU aims to promote Islam, its merits and its position on contemporary issues by exchanging research, books and scientific publications in different languages, holding scientific seminars and training courses, organizing joint exhibitions and programs, and exchanging experiences.
Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh received an Albanian delegation in his office in Riyadh.
He said his ministry “is cooperating with the concerned authorities in all countries of the world, given the Kingdom’s leading role in serving Islam and Muslims to promote the true image of Islam, which is a religion of tolerance and moderation that rejects extremism, violence and terrorism.”
He added: “The Kingdom, led by King Salman, is witnessing a major transformation in all areas, including Islamic affairs, protecting platforms and controlling call activities so that they are according to the Holy Qur’an and in accordance with the principles of moderation and rejection of extremism.”
Al-Asheikh added: “The Kingdom has suffered a lot from terrorism and terrorists, fueled by Iran … There are many groups acting under their (Tehran’s) guidance and in accordance with their plans.”
He said: “The terrorist group of the Muslim Brotherhood … turned into an evil tool in their (Iran’s) hands in order to spread strife and unrest in the Kingdom. However, their plan failed thanks to God Almighty and the wise Saudi leadership, which managed to counter these evil plans and defeat this group and those behind it.”
The Albanian delegation praised the MoU, Saudi services provided to pilgrims and visitors, and projects implemented by the Saudi government to serve Islam and Muslims everywhere. The delegation thanked the king and crown prince for Saudi support for Muslims in Albania.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia donates $3 million to UN cultural tolerance initiative

29/09/19

  • Saudi UN representative said some of the recent terror attacks were caused by hate speech
  • The Kingdom created a center to promote intercultural and religious understanding
  • NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 million in support of the UN Alliance of Civilizations’s (UNAOC) plan of action, activities and programs over the next three years, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday. UNAOC seeks to improve understanding and cooperation among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, in addition to countering polarization and extremism.
    The donation was announced during a speech by the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, in a meeting for the UNAOC initiative on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
    In his speech, Al-Mouallimi said: “The world today is witnessing many conflicts, some of which are a result of the upsurge in hate speech and the growing violent ideologies in many countries around the world. This has led to the terrorist attacks against holy places and houses of worship as well as the murder of innocent people.”
    He stressed that the matter requires the international community to take a serious stance and face this phenomenon.
    Al-Mouallimi added: “We must believe that religious and cultural diversity in human societies does not justify the clash. It requires the establishment of a civilized partnership and building bridges of communication and dialogue.”

The initiative of UNAOC was a positive step toward promoting noble values, building bridges of love and peace, addressing all that violates holy places and providing security for houses of worship.

Abdallah Al-Moualimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN

He highlighted that the Kingdom is one of the first countries to call for religious dialogue and the promotion of a culture of tolerance. “For this reason, it has established the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue and cooperated with the activities of the United Nations and UNAOC,” he said.
“The other factor that leads to conflict is occupation. The continuance of occupation, denying people their rights, marginalization, and oppression help spread extremist ideologies and hate speech.
“Palestine is a vivid example of that. Israel’s continued violations of international resolutions and its undermining of all opportunities for peace, in addition to the continued siege on the Palestinian people, the seizure of their lands and the destruction of their properties were the main cause threatening international stability, peace and security,” he said.
The Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN conveyed his country’s appreciation for the determined and concrete efforts of UNAOC to foster a culture of peace, combat hate speech and face the spread of extremist ideologies, which violate holy places and kill innocent people.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Forum on fighting terrorism financing held in Riyadh

28/09/19

The symposium hosted the Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Ahmed Al-Khulaifi. (SPA)

Combating the financing of terrorism is one of the four domains of the coalition, besides its intellectual, media and military objectives
RIYADH: The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) has held its third monthly symposium in Riyadh, directed at combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The symposium hosted the Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Ahmed Al-Khulaifi, who is chairman of the standing committee for combating money laundering.
The meeting, “Fundamentals of Building National Strategy and Plan of Action in the Field of Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing,” was attended by representatives of the 41-member countries of the IMCTC alliance.
Combating the financing of terrorism is one of the four domains of the coalition, besides its intellectual, media and military objectives.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Muslim leader calls for tolerance at opening of new Islamic center in France

Time: September 27, 2019  

MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa inaugurates the French Institute of Islamic Civilization in Lyon. (Photo/Supplied)
  • Al-Issa pointed out that Islam respected human rights and freedoms within the framework of its legislation

LYON: The head of the Muslim World League (MWL) called for further efforts to promote religious and cultural tolerance at the opening of a new Islamic center in France.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the French Institute of Islamic Civilization in Lyon, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa stressed the importance of dialogue and cultural exchange in breaking down barriers and fighting extremism.

The MWL’s secretary-general said highlighting and working on shared values was vital in strengthening links of human brotherhood to reduce negative gaps between peoples and nations.

“With the civilized transcendence of Islam, there is a need to respect the constitutions and regulations of the countries in which we reside,” said Al-Issa.

He appealed for tolerance, positive coexistence and the building of bridges of friendship between people and warned of the dangers of political groups that used religion as a cover to achieve authoritarian goals, especially through the use of disinformation to recruit young people.

“These groups seek to use Islam, symbol of mercy, morals, peace, values and civilizational principles in their highest form, to achieve their political ambitions and narrow views, loaded with violent extremism or terrorism,” he added.

Al-Issa pointed out that Islam respected human rights and freedoms within the framework of its legislation.

Also in attendance at the opening ceremony was French Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner who thanked Al-Issa for his comments and description of France as a country that promoted integration, stability and mutual respect.

The minister said that the institute represented a challenge to understanding and respect and reflected an accurate vision of Islam as a religion that accepted other cultures and supported dialogue and tolerance.

He also expressed pride at the strong lines of communication between Muslims and the French government and said the city of Lyon was a symbol of dialogue in the country.

Later, Al-Issa, Castaner and the Mayor of Lyon Gerard Collomb toured the institute which is equipped with the latest technology. It consists of five floors and a large conference hall and will offer courses in Islamic civilization in various languages, including Arabic and French. Collomb said the institute would help to educate non-Muslims about Islamic cultural heritage.

The MWL partnered with the French government to help establish the new institute in Lyon.

Earlier, Al-Issa met with the president of the Institute of Islamic Civilization, Kamel Kabtan, and discussed ways to promote a culture of tolerance and dialogue, and combat hatred and violence.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Makkah Governor to announce moderation award on Wednesday

Time: September 18, 2019  

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal will announce the winners at King Abdul Aziz University. (SPA)

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal will announce the winners of the 2019 moderation award at a press conference at King Abdul Aziz University on Wednesday.

The award, in its third year, is considered one of the most important in promoting the values of moderation and combating extremism, both internally and externally.

It is the first award in the field of moderation. It is a confirmation of the approach adopted by Saudi Arabia of moderate thought and shows the efforts of the Kingdom to fight extremist ideas and promote the values and applications of moderation.

The 2018 moderation award was presented to the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, for his efforts in promoting moderation and highlighting the Saudi moderation approach in international forums.

The award aims to promote five key concepts in society: To highlight the true image of the Kingdom in the field of moderation, support efforts in the field of moderation, encourage initiatives promoting a culture of moderation, in addition to raising awareness about the importance of moderation in all areas of life and supporting and highlighting efforts of individuals, groups or bodies and institutions that aim to promote the concept of moderation.

The moderation award stems from the vision of Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who has said: “No to extremism, no to takfir (pronouncement that someone is an unbeliever), no to Westernization, yes to moderation in thought, politics, economy and culture. It is Islam and civilization; it is the course of Saudi moderation.” SPA Jeddah

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Organization of Islamic Cooperation chief condemns terrorist attacks in Kabul

Time: September 07, 2019  

Dr. Yousuf Al-Othaimeen. (SPA)
  • OIC chief reiterated the OIC’s principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing the urgent need to end the violence

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousuf Al-Othaimeen, condemned the escalation of terrorist attacks and violence in Afghanistan, including the latest attack in Kabul on Thursday, which killed at least 11 people and injured dozens. He extended his condolences to the families of the victims and the government and people of Afghanistan. He reiterated the OIC’s principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing the urgent need to end the violence and urged all Afghan parties to show commitment to the peace process.

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World Alliance of Religions for Peace elects KAICIID chief as honorary president

Time: August 25, 2019  

World Alliance of Religions for Peace announced on Saturday the election of secretary general of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar as the honorary president. (WARP/File Photo)
  • Secretary General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar was elected in recognition of his efforts to spread the values of dialogue and tolerance
  • The Alliance consists of a World Council of Senior Religious Leaders from all regions of the world

RIYADH: The World Alliance of Religions for Peace announced on Saturday the election of secretary general of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar as the honorary president of the Alliance.
The announcement was made at the 10th International Conference of the Religions for Peace General Assembly in Lindau, Germany, from 20-23 August 2019.
Alliance officials noted that the election of bin Muammar, along with the group of honorary presidents of the Alliance for the next five years, comes in recognition of his efforts, through the King Abdullah International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, to spread the values of dialogue and tolerance and to promote cooperation between religious figures and makers.
Bin Muammar expressed his thanks and appreciation for the trust of the Religions for Peace General Assembly.
He said: “I am proud to be elected as the honorary president among other honorary presidents, and joining an international multi-religious group of leaders committed to interfaith dialogue.”
He concluded his speech by expressing his sincere thanks and gratitude for the support of the founding countries of the Center, especially Saudi Arabia, the initiator of the initiative, Spain, Austria, the Vatican and the Board of Directors of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, and the advisory board of forty-six members of fifteen religions and beliefs, and employees of the Center in 30 countries around the world.
World Alliance of Religions for Peace, founded in 1970, is one of the most important international non-governmental organizations interested in world religious affairs.
It consists of a World Council of Senior Religious Leaders from all regions of the world; representing six regional interfaith bodies and more than 90 national bodies.

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Hajj symposium calls for coexistence and tolerance

Time: August 06, 2019  

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  • Kingdom’s benevolent contributions are rooted in the memory of humanity: KSRelief chief

MAKKAH: The 44th annual Hajj Grand Symposium began on Monday in Makkah, with peaceful coexistence as its main theme.
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Bentin opened the two-day gathering at the Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel. Welcoming the participants, who include Islamic thinkers and scholars from the Kingdom and across the Islamic world, he said that the title of this year’s event, “Islam: Coexistence and Tolerance,” reflects the desire of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to promote a message of peace and harmony.
He highlighted the efforts made and services provided by his ministry to benefit Hajj pilgrims throughout their stay in the Kingdom. Bentin said that the king is following with great interest the experiences of pilgrims, along with the ongoing development projects in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites.
The minister noted that two million electronic visas were issued to pilgrims this year with no problems, and said the best is yet to come as improvements continue to the services and assistance offered to visitors. He added that the government is keen to do all it can to ensure the comfort and safety of pilgrims, so they can fully devote themselves to worship and Hajj rituals.
“Makkah is currently receiving a large number of pilgrims, equal to the city’s population,” Bentin said. “It is thanks to the excellent management and advanced organizational skills that we feel that they are part of the population of Makkah. More than 350,000 people came from all over the Kingdom to serve the pilgrims, and we in Saudi Arabia are proud to serve them.”
He added that with its scientific and Islamic science themes, the symposium provides a great service to Muslims, researchers and the wider world.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser to the Royal Court and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), presided over the first session of the symposium. He hailed the Kingdom’s leading humanitarian role in providing various forms of assistance to the needy in countries around the world.
“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country whose benevolent contributions are deeply rooted in the memory of humanity. It has provided about $92.4 billion (SR347 billion) to support 84 countries in the world between 1996 and 2019,” he said.
During the second session, which was chaired by Shiekh Saad Al-Shithri, an adviser to the Royal Court, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, also an adviser to the Royal Court and a member of the Senior Ulema Council, and Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, discussed tolerance and coexistence from an Islamic perspective.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, who is also general supervisor of the symposium, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example for others to follow.
“We receive pilgrims from various nationalities and cultures, and we treat them equally,” he said “What we expect from them is that they focus on performing the Hajj rituals in a peaceful and secure environment.”

SPEEDREAD

• Saudi Arabia is the land of humanity and has set an example to follow, says deputy Hajj minister.

• Riyadh has provided about SR347 billion to support 84 countries in the world.

Mashat added that for Muslims to practice tolerance and coexistence fruitfully, they should start by showing acceptance for, and acting in accordance with, Islam’s moderate principles.
“The culture of tolerance begins within the person, who can then promote and spread that culture. Saudi Arabian leadership and citizens are an example that clearly and practically embodies this fact,” he added.
“We don’t only have scholars from all parts of the world (at the conference), but experts from various fields of science will also discuss coexistence and tolerance. People of the same profession, such as doctors, will discuss how a physician should be tolerant and how he coexists with others. Religious scholars also will discuss the same thing.” He added that all topics and workshops in the symposium will be based around the title theme.
On Tuesday, Mashat was scheduled to preside over a session titled “Humanity in the Digital Age.” The speakers were due to include: Dr. Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi, the UAE’s minister of culture and knowledge development; Sultan Al-Rumaithi, head of the Muslim Council of Elders in the UAE; Arwa Arab, assistant professor at King Abdul Aziz University’s department of psychology; and Dr. Ahmed Al-Thenayan, the Saudi deputy minister for technology and digital capacities.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Wazzan, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah Affairs and supervisor of the symposium’s executive committee, said: “The ministry aspires to achieve many goals through this Hajj symposium, including highlighting the cultural and civilizational role of the Kingdom, promoting scientific and cultural communication between Islamic scholars from around the world, focusing on the most important achievements and projects serving Muslims in the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites, and contributing to strengthening the bonds and cooperation of the Islamic nation.”
The first Hajj Grand Symposium was held in 1977 under the title “Awareness on Hajj.” Each year it focuses on different topics related to the Hajj season and Islamic values, in a bid to promote awareness of Islam.
This year, the ministry has arranged special trips for guests to explore historic areas and exhibitions in Makkah and Madinah, as well as attending the symposium’s activities.

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