April 8 through April 23, 2013
Oman’s touring exhibition “Religious Tolerance: Islam in the Sultanate of Oman” opened on April 8, 2013 for the first time in the USA at the Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, which this year is commemorating the 350th anniversary since its founding by royal charter of the British crown.
The opening ceremony was attended by Oman's ambassador to the United States, Her Excellence Hunaina Sultan Al Mughairy, representativs of the Ministry and the University, many distinguished guests, and students and faculty of the university.
The president of the University, Sister Jane Gerety welcomed the Omani delegation and praised the initiative of the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs promoting inter-religious dialogue and mutual understanding. “We are a Catholic university but we welcome people of all faiths. As the students become involved in the greater world their appreciation of the world's diversity should be in depth. Our Christian perspective leaves place for the beliefs of others.“
HE Ambassador Hunaina Sultan Al Mughairy stated how pleased she is to see this exhibition here. Oman and the United States have enjoyed good relations for 200 years, and share common interests and objectives in the Arabian Gulf region. "The relationship between Oman and the United States stands as a model of how free people, determined to maintain their territorial integrity and political independence, can and do cooperate for their mutual interests.“
The nearly 200 years of the mutually beneficial and fruitful relationship between the two nations started with a treaty of amity and commerce -- one of the first agreements of its kind with an Arab state -- which was concluded between the United States and Muscat in 1833. The first Arab diplomatic mission to visit the United States was an Omani delegation arriving in New York aboard The Sultana in 1840.
She explained further that there are many religious groups which practice their faith freely in Oman, and that the sultanate, under the wise leadership of HM Sultan Qaboos, has taken many initiatives, inside and outside the country, to promote the core Islamic values of Peace, cultural dialogue, and coexistence. "Oman has consistently called against bigotry, fanaticism, extremism ... which can only cause division and anxiety between cultures... "
Ambassador Al Mughairy added further that several Sultan Qaboos Chairs have been endowed at prestigious universities around the world, including four in the United States, with the objective of encouraging a global community living in peace, harmony and mutual understanding.
In his opening remarks, Mohammed Al Mamari, Advisor to and speaking on behalf of the Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, said that "Rhode Island holds a unique place in the evolution of human rights in the modern world. When King Charles II approved the Charter in July 1663, it marked the first time in modern history that individuals within a society were free to practice the religion of their choice without any interference from the government. This freedom was extremely radical in an age marked by wars of religion and persecution of people for religious beliefs.“
Following the opening remarks, excerpts from the documentary film "Religious Tolerance in Oman“ were presented, with a question and answer session involving Mr. Al Mamari, Rev. Douglas Leonard, Director of the Al Amana Centre and members of the audience. The Al Amana Centre is an interfaith academic in Muscat. Rev. Leonard is an American living and working in Oman since 2010.
Artists contributing to the opening ceremony were Anwar Al Asmi, religious singer, and Madny Al Bakri, whose colorful artworks are inspired by Quranic verses and Islamic calligraphy.