King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called on Muslims to stand together against extremism and reach out to the world as he opened a conference on interfaith dialogue in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, official media said on Wednesday.
“You are meeting here today to say to the world with pride that we are a fair, honest, humanitarian and moral voice, a voice for living together and dialogue,” King Abdullah said in a speech carried live on state television.
The conference of Muslim scholars – Sunni and Shiite – was organized by the Saudi-based Muslim World League and is the first step in a plan announced by the Saudi king earlier this year to create a Muslim dialogue with Jews and Christians.
The meeting brought together Sunni scholars from around the world, such as Egypt’s Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, and some Shiite figures including former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The monarch pointed out that among the major challenges now facing Muslims is combating a growing extremism.
“The challenges facing the (Muslim) nation are difficult at this time, as its enemies — including those extremists among its own people — have joined forces in a flagrant aggressiveness to distort the … rightfulness and tolerance of Islam,” he said.