Saudi Arabia: Muslim cleric rejects visit by Jewish clergy

Riyadh, 2 April(AKI) - Saudi Arabia's grand mufti Abdelaziz al-Sheikh has rejected an attempt by the government to open interreligious dialogue with Jewish rabbis.

According to a report by the official Kuwaiti news agency Kuna on Wednesday, the mufti refused to accept any visit by rabbis to a conference on interreligious dialogue, expected to be held in the kingdom's capital Riyadh.

A week ago, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Ibn Saud announced the conference in what appears to be the first attempt at dialogue between the three monotheistic faiths, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Any move to create dialogue between Saudi Arabia's imams and Israel's rabbis would be groundbreaking on a religious and political level in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia currently has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

But Saudi Arabia's mufti tried to quickly distance himself from the announcement by the Saudi monarch.

"I ask the media to check their facts and report the truth before spreading the news," said al-Sheikh (photo).

King Abdullah announced plans to host the conference when he met participants who attended the Japan-Muslim world meeting on dialogue among civilisations last month.

The proposal for an interreligious meeting came after the monarch's visit to the Vatican in Rome last November, where he was received by Pope Benedict XVI.


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