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  1. Secular Saudi Arabia? Why the Islamist nation is planning to build churches

Secular Saudi Arabia? Why the Islamist nation is planning to build churches

With an aim to reduce dependency on oil resources, its primary economic driver, Saudi Arabia appears to have adopted a different approach to reach out to the world. This new approach includes socio-cultural cooperation with the world and exploring new avenues of partnership.

By: | New Delhi | Published: May 3, 2018 2:05 PM
Mohammad Bin Salman (Photo: Reuters)

With an aim to reduce dependency on oil resources, its primary economic driver, Saudi Arabia appears to have adopted a different approach to reach out to the world. This new approach includes socio-cultural cooperation with the world and exploring new avenues of partnership.

As per a report published in the Egypt Independent, the Saudi administration has signed an agreement with the Vatican to build churches for its Christian citizens. The agreement was signed by the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Karim Al-Issa and the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue in the Vatican and the French cardinal of the Catholic Church Jean-Louis Tauran, the online daily reported.

The development is significant in the current world scenario, where on one hand, the Saudi prince is trying to present the country’s image as a monarch of moderate Islam and is pitching for the elimination of hardline Islamists who are creating catastrophes in the form of radical terrorism, and on the other, approaching religious leaders for mutual cooperation.

In March this year, Daily Mail reported about the meeting of Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with Catholic leaders in New York. The news of secret meetings between Vatican and Saudis for the construction of churches was also reported by The Guardian in March.

With Qatar having already opened a church in March, Saudi Arabia remains the last country in the region that still has no churches. Saudis, inspired by Wahhabism philosophy, ban all forms of non-Muslim religious activities in the kingdom.

India, on the other hand, has successfully pitched for a temple in UAE, another Islamic country, where a Hindu temple would be a reality soon.

The socio-cultural cooperation has taken a prominent status in today’s foreign affairs and countries like Saudi Arabia relaxing their orthodox positions certainly signals a promising development.

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    jacob Mathew Alemkunnapuzha
    May 5, 2018 at 4:52 pm
    It is indeed a new beginning... I am very glad to hear such good news from the Saudi Arabian authorities, especially from the young Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud... I am sure he would bring the status of Saudi Arabia to the position of any other developed countries around the world.. shaAllah...
    Reply
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      Jacob Mathew Alemkunnapuzha
      May 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm
      It was a dream for many Christian expatriates to have an authorized worship place for their practicing religion for the past 50 years like almost all countries around the world is having Mosques for their Muslim worshipers. I am quite delighted to hear this great news after residing in Saudi Arabia close to 4 decades as an expatriate employee with my family. We used to go every Friday in diffe compounds or some Western Embassies at the diplomatic quarters in Riyadh for such religious services for many years of our residency in Saudi Arabia until June 2011. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the Arabian ila not allowing any other religions and their worship places other than Islam. Saudi Arabia cur ly bans the practice of faiths other than Islam. Again I am very glad to hear such good news from Saudi Arabian authorities, especially from the young Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud. He would bring the Saudi status to any developed countries around the world
      Reply

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