Jeddah, 3rd August 2003
The Kingdom yesterday took a further step towards fostering a national dialogue between people who hold different views by establishing a centre for national dialogue
Addressing the nation to mark the recently concluded National Forum for Intellectual Dialogue, Crown Prince Abdullah, Deputy Premier and Commander of the National Guard, today announced that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz approved establishment of King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue. He said that the Centre will serve as a platform for continuing and expanding the scope of dialogue in the Kingdom, based on two pillars: the Islamic Sharia and national integrity.
The Crown Prince stressed that the Kingdom, home of Islam’s two Holy Mosques, will uphold moderation, reject extremism and moral laxity.
The following is the text of Crown Prince Abdullah’s address to the nation:
“We recently witnessed an important development represented in the convening of the National Forum for Intellectual Dialogue. This meeting attracted a wide spectrum of the elite of this beloved country. In the spirit of fraternity, they met under the benevolence of Islam, held discussions on national matters, and reached constructive recommendations that enhance adherence to the Islamic faith and confirm national unity. I thank all who participated.
With the aim of promoting dialogue to become a constructive way of life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they suggested that the scope of dialogue be continued and expanded so that more speakers could participate and more issues could be debated.
I have the pleasure of announcing that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz has approved the establishment of King Abdul Aziz Centre for National Dialogue to serve as platform to achieve the above-mentioned objectives. Its headquarters, currently under construction in the city of Riyadh, will also utilize the facilities of King Abdul Aziz Public Library.
I have no doubt that the establishment of the Centre will become an historic achievement that will secure a channel for the responsible expression of opinion. This, in turn, will have an impact on the fight against extremism and provide an atmosphere where considered views and new ideas that reject terrorism and extremist thought can emerge.
Dear brothers: In this homeland, we have achieved security, welfare and prosperity, thanks to our adherence to the Islamic religion, and our unity and belief in equality among citizens. Fruitful dialogue should be based on these two foundations, and work on strengthening adherence to them. We live by Islam and we can only be successful if we maintain national unity. We will not allow anyone to infringe on our religious principles, and we reject any attempts to shake our national unity.
Dialogue should be based on the teachings of the wise leaders of the Kingdom’s past. These leaders relied on wisdom, reason and advice, and observed the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I am confident that the Kingdom’s Ulema (religious scholars), intellectuals, and the educated have been following the same path.
This country takes great pride in serving the Two Holy Mosques, and being the focal point for prayers of Muslims worldwide. The Kingdom will not deviate from the principles of the Islamic religion; it will not accept any deviant thinking that distorts Islam, or deploys misleading slogans to justify malicious intent, or intimidate other Muslims. The Saudi people will accept only moderation, and will reject extremism and bigotry on the one hand, and reject decadence and moral laxity on the other.
In conclusion, I pray to Almighty God to lead us to the truth and shield us against falsehood.
Peace and blessings of God be upon you.”