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Saudi cancels Czech forum over anti-Islam bias

Decision follows statements by Czech politicians targeting Islam

Gulf News

Manama: Saudi Arabia is cancelling a scheduled Czech-Saudi forum and suspending the participation of any Saudi from the public or private sectors in its activities in protest against anti-Islam statements and stances by officials in the Czech Republic.

The cancellation and suspension were issued in an order by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to the Saudi foreign ministry, local daily Al Watan reported on Wednesday.

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Sources said the Council of Saudi Chambers had received directives from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry not to hold the forum.

The decision will be reviewed only after the situation is properly addressed, the sources added.

Czech President Miloš Zeman has waded into controversy with Muslims after he issued statements in which he strongly linked Islam with violence and anti-civilisation.

However, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), refuted the allegations.

“The Czech President’s statements on Islam are in line with the statements the President made in the past, where he linked believers in the Quran with anti-Semitic and racist Nazis and said that the enemy is anti-civilization spreading from North Africa to Indonesia, where two billion people live,” OIC Secretary General Eyad Madani said. “Such statements not only show President Zeman’s lack of knowledge and misunderstanding of Islam, but also ignore the historical facts that anti-Semitism and Nazism are a European phenomenon through and through. They have no roots in Islam, neither as a religion nor as a history or civilization. The Holocaust did not take place in the area from North Africa to Indonesia,” Madani said.

President Zeman has refused to apologise for his statement.

In January, Czech opposition leader Tomio Okamura and his Dawn of Direct Democracy movement called on people to bother Muslims in the Czech Republic by “walking pigs” in the vicinity of mosques and other sites visited by Muslims, the Prague Post reported.

Dawn has also called on people to lead [seedy-looking] homeless people to such places and not buy kebab, a meal often offered by Muslim vendors.

The Council of Saudi Chambers last year applied a boycott of all Dutch companies following a royal order banning the participation of any company from The Netherlands in any project in Saudi Arabia.

The boycott was imposed after far-right politician Geert Wilders showed off a flag sticker, deliberate take-off of the Saudi, with anti-Islam slogans. Saudi Arabia saw the provocative display of the sticker as an insult to Islam and to its flag.

Riyadh also ordered reducing the number of visas to be delivered to Dutch citizens to the minimum.

The Dutch cabinet stressed that it “has strongly distanced itself from the insults Wilders first made to the Saudi flag and the religion in December.”

According to business reports in The Netherlands, around 30 Dutch companies, includingas Shell, dairy group FrieslandCampina and dredging company Boskalis, have hundreds of millions of euros invested in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s two holy mosques.

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