26 November 2008, 11:21
Orthodox public organizations' address the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Moscow Orthodox believers have recently learned that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plans to build one more mosque in our city. Historically, not only Orthodox churches were built in Moscow: our capital have synagogues, though there are enough Orthodox Churches in Israel; we have Catholic churches, but there are several Russian Churches in Italy; even two Shiite mosques are located in our city – however, both Baku and Teheran Orthodox believers have a place for prayer and they do not feel any prosecutions.
You often say that Islam is a religion of justice. However, if Saudi Arabia builds mosques in dozens of Christian countries, isn't it just to build a church for Christians living in Your Kingdom! Perhaps, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran was right when he said that "if Muslims believe it right to have a great striking mosque in Rome, than it is right for Christians to build a church in Riyadh!"
It is common knowledge that preachers of true monotheism - Christians - came to Mecca and Medina several centuries before Muslims. Jews historically resided there. So do you believe it just not to allow them in the territories, where their ancestors lived, where their churches and cemeteries were located? Meanwhile, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Emir of Sharjah, gave a good example to all Muslim governors last year when he blessed a foundation of the Orthodox Church and thus proved his sincere good feelings to Christians.
Saudi Arabia, as any other country of the world, is a multiconfessional and policonfessional state. It would be just to grant the freedom of faith to Christian minority as their share exceeds 10 per cent. It is very important to lift restrictions on visits of Christians to Mecca and Medina, to permit them to wear crosses, to publish religious literature and preach their religion. Schools should give Christians an opportunity to study basics of Christian religion, as compulsory study of Islam only may become a delayed action mine in the foundation of Your country and provoke interethnic and interreligious discord. It would be just to create the same conditions for Saudi Christians as Muslims have in Russia.
Today relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia actively develop. You and Your associates urge to strengthen friendship between our countries and develop dialogue between Islam and Christianity. All these initiatives should be appreciated, but only in case, they are mutually useful. Alongside with fighting negative image of Islam among Christians, myths about Christianity should be renounced. If You offer to broadcast the Mecca TV channel in Russia in order to preach "pure Islam" among Russians, then it would be just to give Your subjects a chance to watch Russian Orthodox channel that can simply explain Muslims that Christians do not believe in three gods, do not misquote Bible and do not pray to idols.
It is the only way to make interreligious dialogue honest and just.
Moscow Division of the Union of Orthodox Citizens
November 24, 2008