Exclusive - UNAOC: Saudi Arabia Successful Model of Protection of Religious Sites
The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Angel Moratinos, said that Saudi Arabia is a successful model for the protection of religious sites, through its ability to attract millions of pilgrims from different countries and cultures and who speak different languages.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he revealed that the UNAOC would kick off in July the implementation of a plan to identify all places of worship around the world in order to develop appropriate steps to protect and secure them.
“The secretary-general’s initiative to devise a plan to protect all religious places is timely, especially after the terrorist attacks in New Zealand, the United States, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and a number of Muslim countries, so that all worshippers, regardless of their religion, can pray in a safe place freely and spiritually,” he said.
“We will survey the number of places of worship in the world and discover how many millions of mosques, churches and temples there are. This will reflect the importance of freedom of worship and spirituality in the 21st century,” he added.
According to the UNAOC high representative, the survey of places of worship around the world will be via satellite and Google maps and will be followed by steps to protect their security.
He noted that Saudi Arabia was a “major player” in any initiative related to dialogue between religions, civilizations or cultures, pointing out that the Saudi leadership role in the Arab and Islamic world cannot be overstepped.
“The Kingdom is an influential and active country that embraces the two holy mosques and is an active member of the dialogue among civilizations,” Moratinos said.
“One of its initiatives was announced by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, with my personal participation - The King Abdullah Center for Dialogue between Religions and Cultures in Vienna, which is today the main key of our relations with Saudi Arabia,” he underlined.
He emphasized that the center “is doing impressive work,” adding that initiatives it has launched so far were distinctive.
“We need to strengthen relations between the UNAOC and the center in the coming period, especially with regard to interfaith and intercultural dialogue... No project or initiative in this field can be achieved without Saudi Arabia,” he remarked.