Austria: Controversial Culture | European Journal | DW | 03.12.2012
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European Journal

Austria: Controversial Culture

A new culture center in Austria is proving controversial. Its purpose is to promote inter-faith dialogue - but critics are outraged: its funding comes from Saudi Arabia, a country not known for its religious tolerance.

epa02859585 (FILE) A file photo dated 27 June 2010 shows Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud waving during the family photo session at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Ontario. King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz announced late 07 August 2011 that he would recall the kingdom's ambassador from Syria for 'consultations' and called on Damascus to implement swift and all-out reforms. The Syrian government is under mounting international pressure to halt a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Syrian human rights groups say that more than 1,650 people and 390 security personnel have been killed in the protests since they began in mid-March. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Saudi Arabia bought the neo-Baroque building in Vienna for 14 million euros and named the new center for worldwide interfaith dialogue after King Abdullah. But critics include a number of Austrian politicians as well as liberal Muslims, who accuse the center's organizers of plotting to spread radical Islam. Saudi Arabia has already invested millions in building mosques in south-eastern Europe.