Is this meant to be a joke?
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the event's chief sponsor, opened the meeting with a call for greater understanding in the Middle East, saying that religious and cultural differences in the region have "engendered intolerance, causing devastating wars and considerable bloodshed."
The most intolerant, repressive regime in the world is calling for greater understanding?
It really baffles me how men of power can simply unleash such empty remarks.
Friday Lunch Club highlights Saudi Arabia's interfaith hypocrisy from an article featured in the Christian Science Monitor:
And fancy the president of the other intolerant, repressive regime in Israel offering King Abdullah praise:
"...The lofty-sounding principle is, in fact, a cleverly coded way of granting religious leaders the right to criminalize speech and activities that they deem to insult religion. Instead of promoting harmony, however, this effort will exacerbate divisions and intensify religious repression....Another stark irony hangs over the UN special session this week. Saudi Arabia is one of the world's worst abusers of religious freedom, a fact recognized by the Bush administration when it named it a "country of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act in 2004. The king couldn't hold such a conference at home, where conservative clerics no doubt would purge the guest list of Jews from Israel, Baha'is, and Ahmadis.....It also violates the rights of the large communities of Muslims who adhere to Islamic traditions other than the one deemed orthodox by Saudi clerics. In the past two years, dozens of Shiites have been detained for up to 30 days for holding small religious gatherings at home..."
Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed Saudi Arabia's interfaith initiative today.
"Your majesty, the king of Saudi Arabia, I was listening to your message. I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people," he said. "The initiative's portrayal of our region's future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in nations."
Luckily, not everyone in the world was fooled by the UN puppet show display from two major perpetrators of human rights abuses, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Human rights groups, which maintain that Saudi Arabia is among the world's least tolerant countries, have voiced reservations about the interfaith initiative. European governments also expressed concern over recent attempts by Islamic governments to stifle criticism of Islam, even in the West. "Freedom of religion cannot be achieved without freedom of speech, even if it is sometimes used to express derision," said former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, speaking on behalf of the European Union.