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.
I was interviewed today by the Pakistani television channel, AAJ, as well as by a prominent pastor of a mega-church in the DC area.
But in a potential highlight of the conference for me personally, I am going to be interviewed by the Saudi Television channel (al-ikhbariya) in 90 minutes.
When people ask me what concrete follow-up I expect there to be after this conference, I give many possibilities. But most important, I would say, is that even if nothing else comes of it, the fact that this television station – al-ikhbariya is broadcasting most of each of these three days from the lobby of this hotel, and spending the majority of saudi-studio based time talking about this conference, is nothing short of amazing.
In a country with well-documented record of religious intolerance, Saudi citizens and others around the region are having Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist leaders paraded one by one, onto their television screens, interviewed about their experiences of and reactions to the conference.
Millions of Saudis and other Arabs (it is a satellite channel that began broadcasting in 2004) are watching. It may not be an overstatement to affirm that this is doing more good for exposure to the ‘other’ than any single television news coverage in the modern Arab world’s history.