26 November 2008, 11:18
Russian Orthodox figures ask Saudi King’s permission to build a Christian church in Arabia
Moscow, November 25, Interfax – Representatives of Orthodox public organizations addressed the King of Saudi Arabia an open letter with a request to build an Orthodox Church in his country.
The address, conveyed to Interfax-Religion, was initiated after the Saudi Kingdom announced its plans to build a mosque in Moscow.
“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!" the letter says.
To support their words the authors quoted Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran who 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.”
Orthodox believers remind that preachers of monotheism - Christians - came to Mecca and Medina several centuries before Muslims, while Jews historically resided there. Therefore, it is unjust not to allow them in the territories, where their ancestors lived, where their churches and cemeteries were located.
“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,” the address further says.
Its authors consider 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. “It would be just to create the same conditions for Saudi Christians as Muslims have in Russia,” Orthodox activists stressed.
“It is the only way to make interreligious dialogue honest and just,” the address written by the Moscow Division of the Union of Orthodox citizens, the Radonezh Society and the Byzantium Club concludes.
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