Coronavirus response in Arab region gets interfaith funding

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Coronavirus has spread around the world, impacting all countries and peoples, and now the COVID-19 response is also crossing borders – religious ones.

A major international interfaith organization is offering grants for interreligious initiatives that respond to the coronavirus pandemic and promote public health.

The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, globally known as KAICIID, announced last week it will provide funding for individual and group projects that take an interreligious approach to responding to the health crisis.

“Religious communities are on the front lines of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing the spread of infection, and supporting the most vulnerable groups in society,” KAICIID said in a statement on its website.

KAICIID said it will offer small grants for organizations and individuals in the Arab region, Myanmar and Nigeria, to launch projects that enhance the role of interreligious dialogue during the pandemic.

While some leaders and believers of different faiths have already united during the COVID-19 crisis, this is the first international effort to fund and inspire interfaith responses to COVID-19.

Last month Pope Francis and Egypt’s Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayeb promoted and participated in a worldwide day of fasting and prayer to ask “God to help humankind overcome the coronavirus pandemic.” Other prominent religious leaders have also held Zoom multifaith prayer calls for hope and an online interfaith memorial for COVID-19 victims was launched in the UK.

Now KAICIID will give 3,000-5,000 euros to organizations, institutions or individuals with short-term projects that focus on building dialogue bridges between diverse religious and ethnic communities in the Arab region.

An intergovernmental organization started in 2012 by Saudi Arabia, Austria, and Spain, KAICIID is dedicated to promoting interreligious dialogue to prevent and resolve conflict. The Vatican is a founding observer and the organization’s Secretary General is Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, who is also adviser to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

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