King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was kicking off an interfaith conference in Madrid on Wednesday — an effort to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews closer together amid a world that often puts the three faiths at odds. …
Abdullah has made reaching out to other faiths a hallmark of his rule since taking over the oil-rich kingdom following the death of his half brother in 2005. He met with Pope Benedict XVI late last year, the first meeting ever between a pope and a reigning Saudi king.
And in June, Abdullah held a religious conference in Mecca in which participants pledged improved relations between Islam’s two main branches — Sunni and Shia. At that meeting Abdullah also rejected extremism, saying that Muslims must present Islam’s “good message” to the world.
Observers say the conference was being held in Spain partly because it would be politically unpalatable for Abdullah to allow Jewish and Christian leaders on Saudi soil.
I’m surprised they even held it in al-Andalus. National Brotherhood Week, Saudi style …..