The Prince of Wales has appealed for better 'cultural connectivity' in society. At the same time he has warned of how fears of different faiths are 'stoked and spread' through social media.
Speaking at the inauguration of the new home of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Prince Charles praised the centre's goals of 'dialogue, understanding and connection'.
He said: 'there has perhaps never been a greater need for cultural connectivity. In the world in which we now live, with fears about "the other" – whether that be Sunni, Shia, Jew, Christian, Yazidi, Hindu or Buddhist – stoked and spread through social media, and amplified by those who would seek to suppress understanding, rather than promote it, there is an urgent need for calm reflection and a genuinely sustained, empathetic and open dialogue across boundaries of faith, ethnicity and culture.'
The 'discontents and anxieties' of the present age often have their basis in material inequities, a lack of social justice and a retreat into 'a communal solidarity that can be a force for good or bad'.
'If we are to face the anxieties of our age with equanimity, we need disinterested enquiry, serious scholarship and a spirit of rigorous and humane partnership,' said the Prince of Wales.
'We need to rediscover and explore what unites rather than what divides us. And that involves a recognition that we have all learned from each other and should continue to do so. No one culture contains the complete truth. We are all seekers.'
In his speech, Prince Charles, patron of the centre since it was founded in 1985, said the work was still far from finished. 'As it looks to that future, the centre has a clear mission – to promote dialogue and understanding. I hope that, today, you will join me in reaffirming our shared commitment to that goal and, in so doing, our commitment to the Centre's continued success in the years ahead.'
Also present was Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, who spoke of his country's long-standing commitment to building bridges with other cultures and civilizations. He also spoke of King Hamad's role in promoting the principles of multiculturalism, a key characteristic of Bahrain's national identity.
He emphasised the importance of continuing to build bridges with other cultures to encourage the principles of compassion and coexistence, which he said are key values of Islam.