Stop abusing religions, prophets: King

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has urged people the world over to confront those who try to abuse divine religions and prophets of God.

Addressing princes, ministers, religious scholars and other citizens who came to greet him atTaibaPalaceon Tuesday night, King Abdullah urged Muslims to defend their Islamic faith and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

He congratulated Saudis on the occasion of the National Day, marking the unification of the Kingdom by King Abdul Aziz and emphasized the unity and solidarity of Saudi people.

In his brief speech, King Abdullah described Islam as a religion that promotes tolerance, mercy and equality. Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, attended the reception.

King Abdullah arrived fromCasablancaafter spending a month-long vacation in the Moroccan city. He laid the foundation for the largest expansion of the Prophet’s Mosque soon after his arrival.

Speaking at the reception, Muhammad Al-Oqla, president of Madinah Islamic University, highlighted the efforts of King Abdullah and other Saudi leaders in enhancing the progress and prosperity of the country’s people and expanding the two holy mosques.

He praised the king for visiting Madinah and commended his humanitarian endeavors benefiting people in different parts of the world. “You have madeSaudi Arabiaone of the most stable countries in the world and one that is the least affected by the global economic crisis.”

Meanwhile, intellectuals in Madinah said King Abdullah’s arrival in the Prophet’s city after concluding his private vacation inMoroccowas a symbolic reply to those who try to tarnish the image of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They also noted the king’s efforts to promote dialogue between the followers of different cultures and faiths.

In a related development, Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah inaugurated a number of educational projects in Madinah, including a museum, the new education department building, a scouts training center and a planetarium. The minister also visited the District Club at Imam Ali binAbitalebSchoolin the city.

Also yesterday, Madinah Mayor Khaled Taher said the new expansion project launched by King Abdullah would triple the capacity of the Prophet’s Mosque. “The king has ordered the completion of the project within two years,” the mayor said. “Earlier, we had planned to implement it in three phases but the king wanted it in one phase.” He said the new project would also expand the mosque’s public utility services.