Saudi offer for Moscow mosque, Orthodox call for church in Arabia

November 29, 2008

A Saudi offer to build a large mosque in Moscow has prompted Russian Orthodox organisations to ask for permission to build an Orthodox church in Saudi Arabia. Several western Christian churches have asked for or suggested such reciprocity with Saudi Arabia, which funds mosques abroad but bans any religion but Islam at home. It’s an issue that can only become more pressing if King Abdullah continues to preach interfaith dialogue and tolerance around the globe while not practicing it at home.

The Russian Muftis Council announced the Saudi offer to fund a mosque last week, promting an open letter to King Abdullah a few days later by what Interfax news agency called Orthodox public organisations. It didn’t come from the Russian Orthodox Church itself, but watch this space. The Russians have become increasingly active on the world religious scene as they emerge from the communist era and it would not be surprising to see them take a position on this question as well. There is probably also a domestic angle to this. Islam is the second largest religion in Russia and growing, so the Orthodox Church might feel a bit of competition.

(Photo: St. Basil’s Cathedral on Moscow’s Red Square, 27 Jan 2007/Denis Sinyakov)

“You often say that Islam is a religion of justice. However, if Saudi Arabia builds mosques in dozens of Christian countries, isn’t it just to build a church for Christians living in Your Kingdom!” says the letter quoted by Interfax. “It would be just to create the same conditions for Saudi Christians as Muslims have in Russia … It is the only way to make interreligious dialogue honest and just.”

Read the full text of the letter in English here. It says Moscow already has two mosques but IslamOnline speaks of six.

Do you think it’s important to see churches built in Saudi Arabia? Should this be a litmus test for assessing Abdullah’s dialogue campaign?


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[…] Read it. […]

Posted by DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Saudi offer for Moscow mosque, Orthodox call for church in Arabia | Report as abusive

Hello Everyone;

I really appreciate who brings this important point; testing the king fairness on his push to make the world
change to islam. The king asked the same question to one of the leaders in Africa, considered as a mostly christian country, about 40 years ago and the then leader just told him exactly the same reciprocal answer and the king of saudi did not push more.

It seems to me there is a tendency within the followers of islam that the religion islam is considered more perfect than the other religions. It is absurd.

Finally I cannot wait what will be the response of the king? will it be the same as 40 years ago or different?


Posted by mack | Report as abusive

Saudi Arabia is hypocritical in their dealings. They demand to build mosques abroad, but deny other religions to do anything in their own country. Why doesn’t anyone press them on the UN level on this issue?

Jesus Is The Foundation c0

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

[…] Saudi offer for Moscow mosque, Orthodox call for church in Arabia – Reuters BlogsTags: FaithWorld , christian , church , islam , moscow , russia , russian orthodox , saudi arabia A Saudi offer to build a large mosque in Moscow has prompted Russian Orthodox organisations to ask for permission to build an Orthodox church in Saudi … […]

Posted by Moscow » Kolomenskoe Gates | Report as abusive

Well, though Saudi monarch is unjusted, why do we show from our acts that we are like him. What CHRIST taught we christians is TOLERANCE.
I suggest let him build as many mosques as he wants in all christians countries, but we must have the faith that keep them empty, not by violence but by standing firm on our faith.
As far as Saudi Christians are concerned if they are firm in their faith they still will be even without a church.

Posted by Bobby Victor Thomas | Report as abusive

[…] Tit for tat … will they play? […]

Posted by Pseudo-Polymath » Blog Archive » Monday Highlights | Report as abusive

[…] for tat … will they play? Share the […]

Posted by Stones Cry Out – If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e43v1 | Report as abusive

[…] Saudi offer for Moscow mosque, Orthodox call for church in Arabia […]

Posted by Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Seems Only Fair | Report as abusive

An orthodox church in Saudi Arabia?

Sauce for the goose, I say.

Posted by kurt9 | Report as abusive

Congratulations to the Moscow Division of the Union of Orthodox Citizens for taking this principled position and presenting a very LOGICAL and JUST case.

The citizens of Saudi Arabia – as well as of other Islamic states – would gain a great deal from having the opportunity to learn about Christianity from Christians, (as well as Judaism from Jews).

The Saudis want to promote their views on Islam because they believe Islam is a good religion – a Religion of Peace, Tolerance, Justice.

Here is a perfect opportunity to prove this proudly to the world.

Jesus would have no objections. Nor should the Prophet of Islam. Nor should His followers.

I hope that there can be similar consideration given to the building of Synagogues also. Jews should now rise to the occasion!

Posted by PRODOS | Report as abusive

What a stupid and childish arguement! Russia and many other countries have large muslim communities who wish to practice their right of performing their worships, and if you go to their worship places you will find them fully used at the time of prayers. In Saudi Arabia their are no mentionable numbers of christian or other faiths followers, and these are usually temporary visitors or contracted workers and more importantly they are not that keen on performing any religious acts during their business or working missions. So what would be the meaning of erecting a church or other faith worship place there with no real use? Wouldn’t it be a mere act of spite and provacation? Those who say it is a “tit for tat” imply that allowing people of any faith to practice their worship is a tit or tat i.e. a transgression for which they should be penalised! Isn’t that the mentallity of religious intolerence and confrontation instigated by sick feelings towards other faiths? This type of mentality is either a product of ignorance and hooliganism or an expression of ill intentions from evil souls, God save us from each.

Posted by right man | Report as abusive

The truth is that the only thing Muslims know is ‘considering their religion best and boasting of it all the time’.
Has anyone seen even a single Muslim country which is one of the top in power or intellectuality? No,because the only thing they have is-Money.And infact Money also only in few Countries who have an abundance of oil,otherwise go and see them in other nations in Asia,Africa etc. They are POOREST. So Saudi Arabia should do something for those poor Muslims who even don’t have proper food to eat,and ofcourse they are illiterate also,so arrange them atleast High School education. But instead of this,This stupid nation tries to show the whole world that they have a lot of money to build Mosques in other countries. But the reality is that they ONLY have money,but not the guts since they have made this money by selling a natural resource.They never made money by producing or manufacturing something,using their brain.Infact even their all the billion of dollars are being traded and invested ‘BY’ foreigners ‘IN’ foreign companies/countries.Moreover,the Gulf countries themselves are able to run their governments only by the help of the US and EU. Who doesn’t know the relationship of US and the king of Saudi? Who doesn’t know the US has a very strong Military base there? It is well known that the King is a puppet of the hands of US government. If Saudi Arabia is very much concerned about Muslims then why it didn’t stop supplying oil to the US at the time when George W.Bush decided to attack Afghanistan and Iraq? Infact it even increased the oil supply at that time.

The truth is that the only thing which is being funded by all the Arabs and their ‘Black’ money is so-called ‘Jihad’ which we,the world people, call ‘Terrorism’. Look at Kashmir and then have a look at Palestine too ,Everywhere you’ll find the stains of this terrorism.

We have seen 9/11 and many more,now we are just fed up. and this thing should be understood well by them. Because this truth can not be neglected that all the terrorist activities only happen in other nations but never in Saudi Arabia or UAE and so on.

We must think about it very positively and seriously,otherwise it will be too late to wake up and survive. Russia is greatly populated by Orthodox Christians but the policy of Russian government to become soft towards Muslims,is going to create some very serious problems in future. They are just increasing because they usually have many children in a family since they don’t use family planning as its against their religion.It means they will sire children as long as they have sexual prowess to do so. Thus,Russia(and infact every nation)should aware of this as it’s real population of native Russians is not expanding as it should be.If Russia takes no action against this all,then it’will have no way left to protect itself from an attack like 9/11 or 11/26,so on.

May God Bless this Whole world and save us from evil powers as he has saved in the past by destroying many communities in the history of Human civilization.

Posted by Rockie | Report as abusive

As a Muslim, I fully support the right of Christians/Jews/Hindus to build their places of worship in Saudia Arabia. I’m tired of people equating Saudi’s hardline version of Islam with Islam in general. The Saudi Wahabbist ideology is absolutely positively insane. In fact, the Saudis don’t even allow many Shia mosques, and they imprison several Sufi (mystic) Muslims, and Muslims from branches of Sunnism other than their own Wahabbi sect.

Saudi Arabia is a perfect example of hypocrisy and intolerance, but remember, Saudis dont just oppress non-Muslims, they even oppress other Muslims who they dont consider good Muslims. Shia’s cant even pray at the graves of their most holy saints, because the Saudi Wahabbi police hit them with bamboo sticks so they keep walking!

Yes, the Saudis are hypocrites, but its worse to be a Shia in Saudi Arabia than a Christian.

Posted by kharnak | Report as abusive