Kuwait’s National Assembly Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, met with Pope Francis at the general audience on Wednesday. Al-Ghanim said the visit had special importance, as it comes amid fears of terrorism “and reports by foreign media seeking to link terrorism to our true Islam.”
“We have emphasized in our meeting today that Islam is a religion of peace and that terrorism is an intercontinental industry, not linked to a certain religion, race, ethnicity, people or region,” he said.
In March 2103, Suhail Shuhaibar, Kuwait’s non-resident ambassador to the Vatican, met with Pope Francis. He noted that “Kuwait is the first country in the Gulf to have established diplomatic relations with the Vatican.” According to the Kuwaiti ambassador, the Vatican sees Kuwait as a leading example of religious tolerance, where religions thrive side-by-side in an atmosphere of understanding and uninterrupted freedom.
Al-Ghanim appealed to the world’s political leaders to denounce all forms of terrorism and to call for an interfaith dialogue. “The meeting with Pope Francis was fruitful and we as Kuwaitis are proud of living in a country and a society where toleration is dominant,” he said.
Al-Ghanim blamed Israel’s policies in Palestine for aggravating international relations, saying that hostilities by Israel against Palestinian Muslims and Christians have fueled extremism and terrorism.
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.