Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has called for Austria to withdraw from a Saudi-financed religious dialogue center in Vienna that has become embroiled in controversy over Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record, the Reuters website reports today (January 17, 2015).
He became the latest and most senior Austrian politician to suggest quitting the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), which was opened in 2012. Saudi Arabia paid for the baroque palace that houses the center and is footing its budget for the first three years.
"This center does not fulfill at all the mandate of dialogue and is silent about basic issues of human rights. We will not tolerate this. It is clear to me from today's perspective that we should get out," Faymann told the newspaper Der Standard in an interview published today.
Austria has been particularly critical in recent days over Saudi Arabia's flogging of an atheist and civil rights blogger, sentenced to 1,000 lashes for charges including insulting Islam.