March 14th through March 28th, 2013
Oman’s touring exhibition with the message of "Religious Tolerance: Islam in the Sultanate of Oman" opened on March 14, 2013 in the rooms adjoining the mayor’s office in the city hall of Vilnius, the capital of the Baltic Republic of Lithuania.
The auditorium stage was festooned with the flags of Oman, Lithuania and the city of Vilnius, with windows overlooking the snow-covered central square of the Old Town, an UNESCO World Heritage site.
The opening ceremony was well-attended, with members of the Lithuania parliament and representatives of various ethnic communities, and the general public filling the auditorium. In his opening remarks, Mohammed Al Mamari, on behalf of the Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, told the crowd "It is my honor to be here in Lithuania to deliver Oman’s message of religious tolerance and acceptance. Vilnius, with its various ethnic groups, historic traditions and various religions represented here, is very much a centre of spiritual life and science. ... It is our strong belief that peace and stability only can be realised today in any society through dialogue and mutual understanding. Vilnius is and always has been multi-faceted and multi-lingual, and as a result, is a city of dialogue."
The patron of the exhibition, Romas Jakubauskas, Mufti of the Sunni Muslim Religious Centre in Lithuania, thanked the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs (MARA), and he compared Lithuania to Oman as a country with different religions living peacefully side by side. The difference is that Muslims are in the majority in Oman, with the religious minorities protected and supported by the state. In Lithuania it is the reverse, with Muslims in the minority. "This exhibition presents a good opportunity for the people of Lithuania to learn about Islam," he said.
Prof. Dr. Marija Ausrine Pavilioniene, the Director of the Lithuanian parliament’s committee for European Affairs addressed the gathering, stating that she is very happy to see this exhibit here, and that this exhibition is very important. "We need more exhibitions like this to bring us closer together." She was also very pleased to learn about the role of women in Omani society, and she her appreciation "to the men of Oman for being supportive of the women who play an active role in society."
The Advisor to the Prime Minister, Mr. Faustas Latenas, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister thanked the MARA for providing this exhibiton and giving the peple of Lithuania an insight to Oman. He emphasized that "the very concept of 'tolerance' already indicates an awareness of differences, a necessity for making it possible to live in peaceful coexistence."
On behalf of the Union of the Communities of Lithuanian Tatars, Prof. Adas Jakubauskas, Chairman expressed his gratitude to the MARA and to HM the Sultan of Oman for sending this exhibition here. "It shows a clarity of thought and progressive thinking, and in presenting Islam to the people of Lithuania it corrects some misperceptions. Muslims having been living in Lithuania for more than 600 years, but a majority of people here are unaware of the tenets of Islam."
Mr. Julius Sabatauskas, member of parliament and chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs commented that the title of exhibition, with its emphasis on "tolerance" is excellent because different people have different ideas of what tolerance means. "This exhibition opens a dialogue between peoples to define and promote tolerance. And it not only promotes good relations between religions but also between different countries, and promotes peace in the world."