Ari Alexander is guest blogging (via Blackberry) from the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid, organized by the Muslim World League under the patronage of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
– Not enough seats on the buses from the hotel to the palace. I was in one of the mercedes cars with the secretary-general of the world jewish congress and a tunisian scholar working on a 50 volume encyclopedia of Islam.
We’re taking our seats for this historic opening ceremony. Tony Blair, a surprise guest, is being swarmed in the front row. I am in the second row. The king of saudi arabia will speak from 20 feet in front of me. A dozen men are wearing yarmulkes. This doesn’t happen every day. The world will soon know about what will take place in this small room. It seems that there are as many media members as participants.
– Oh man. Jesse Jackson just sat down four seats over. Doesn’t he know I’m wearing my ‘obama girl’ t-shirt?
– The saudi royal court sat down. About 20 people – stage right. The fact that he’s a king and they’re his court adds to the drama. It looks like a play is about to begin. But the king is playing the part of the king of the birthplace and spiritual center of Islam. Rabbis, cardinals, monks are bearing witness. If this is *just* a publicity stunt, then its a mighty impressive one.
– The two kings have spoken, as has the secretary-general of the muslim world league. Nice words from all. Strong words even. I was happy to hear the sec-gen call for action to come out of this conference.
But as suspected, the words themselves were a bit anti-climactic. The words of these speeches are not the story. We were hear to recognize and watch the celebration of a story that had been written by getting us all here under saudi patronage.
Let’s just say that if today’s words ruled the world, we’d be in a lot better shape than we seem to be.