ASIA/SAUDI ARABIA - After Maronite Patriarch's visit, the first inter-religious dialogue center in Saudi territory could open

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 middle east   islam   oriental churches   dialogue

Riyadh (Agenzia Fides) - One of the concrete fruits of the brief but important visit to Saudi Arabia by Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai could be the green light of the Saudi monarchy to the creation of a permanent International Inter-religious Center in the Kingdom. The new body - report Lebanese sources to Fides, which have not yet been officially confirmed - could be hosted at the site of an ancient 900-year-old church, brought to light, and for this purpose would be completely renovated.
The official sources of the Saudi kingdom do not confirm the rumors about the future inter-religious dialogue center, but with regards to the visit of Patriarch Rai, emphasize this event and presents it as a confirmation of Saudi's intention to open dialogue with other realities and religious communities.
On Tuesday, November 14, in his brief visit to Riyadh, Patriarch Rai met with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the current "strong man" of the Saudi leadership. In the statements released by the official agencies, the Patriarch's visit was represented as a sign of "fraternal relations between the Kingdom and Lebanon" and as a confirmation of "the relevant role of the various religions and cultures to promote tolerance and stem violence" .
During his brief visit, Patriarch Rai also met with Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri, who on November 4 announced his resignation. The Maronite Patriarch said he was "convinced" of the reasons that led Hariri to resign. Hariri himself declared his intention to return to Lebanon in the next few days, and his family will remain in Riyadh. Hariri possesses dual Lebanese and Saudi citizenship. In the meantime Lebanese President Michel Aoun says that Hariri is being detained in Saudi Arabia. "Nothing justifies that Saad al Hariri has not returned to Lebanon in 12 days. We consider he has been detained, and his alleged detention breached the Vienna Convention", reads a tweet made by Aoun himself on Wednesday 15 November. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/11/2017)