Muscat: An exhibition titled 'Religious Tolerance: Islam in the Sultanate of Oman', sponsored by the Islamic Culture Centre, opened on Tuesday at the Ljubljana Town Hall in Slovenia.
Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia, a member of the European Union, located in southern Central Europe. The Republic of Slovenia is an alpine country which has been a hub between the Slavic, German and Latin cultures, and is home to more than 50,000 Muslims, approximately 2 per cent of the country's two million people.
Among those who attended the opening ceremony were Ljubljana's mayor Zoran Jankovic, Mufti Nedzad Grabus, and representing Oman's Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs was Sheikh Ahmed bin Saud Al Siyabi, secretary-general of the Ifta office. Oman was also represented by Dr Badr Mohammed Al Hinai, Oman's ambassador accredited to Slovenia and permanent representative to the United Nations at Vienna.
More than 200 visitors attended the opening ceremony.
Mayor Jankovic underlined the close ties with the Sultanate of Oman, and said the two countries demonstrated their commitment to openness and tolerance.
Following the Mufti's opening remarks, Al Siyabi reiterated Oman's historical legacy of coexistence, both at home and abroad, stating: "Just as in Oman, it has been the same abroad. Wherever the Omanis lived and traded, such as in East Africa and Southeast Asia, they followed the credo."
Ambassador Al Hinai hoped that this exhibition "will spread further in Europe and cross many more borders as part of the framework of Oman's National Plan for the Alliance of Civilisations, formulated in 2009 to promote tolerance and coexistence between civilisations and religions. Oman has stayed firm on fostering religious tolerance."
With a population of 300,000, Ljubljana is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, with its centre stretched picturesquely along the Ljubljanica river, spanned by romantic bridges. Each year, over 10,000 cultural events take place in the city. It has managed to retain traces from all the periods of its rich history — from the legacy of Roman Emona to the Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau periods. Here, eastern and western cultures truly meet.
Earlier this year, on September 14, 2013, Slovenia's Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek laid the foundation stone for the first mosque in the country at a ceremony attended by nearly 10,000 people, noting that it is a "symbolic victory against all forms of religious intolerance" and that Europe would not be as culturally rich without Islam. Construction should be over by the end of 2016. The Islamic Religio-Cultural Centre, also known as the Ljubljana Mosque, is located in the Bezigrad district, comprising the mosque, a library, a classroom, an ablution fountain and the Imam's offices and quarters. Financial assistance is being provided through a donation made by Qatar.
The intent of Oman's touring exhibition is to provide an insight into Islam's role in the daily life of the modern Arab society. In Oman, Islam is a link among the various sections in the country and helps safeguard cultural identity in these times of great change. This exhibition demonstrates that progress does not necessarily go hand in hand with a loss of cultural identity, and provides an impressive and memorable experience for the visitor.
Accompanying the exhibition is a short documentary film, Religious Tolerance in Oman, made by the award-winning German filmmaker Wolfgang Ettlich, commissioned by the ministry to document the religious life in the country. The exhibition is on display from December 3 through December 23 at the Ljubljana Town Hall, Mestna trg 1, Ljubljana in the Zgodovsinki Atrium.
The contents of the exhibition on religious tolerance in Oman are available online at www.islam-in-oman.com