Many government agencies have joined hands to celebrate
We have many events ... More than ten are major exhibitions. These include the ongoing exhibition of
What does your department want to achieve during the celebration?
Obviously, we are only one among the many entities of
What we want to do is to celebrate in many ways the recognition of how much His Highness Dr
Do you think the ongoing Vatican Exhibition can help bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims?
Definitely. I think this ongoing exhibition will be able to ... (foster) ... tolerance, peace, love and understanding between Christians and Muslims. When I first announced this exhibition, I got several comments ... (both positive) ... and negative. Some said I should only exhibit Muslim-related things ... People have different views. I want people to decide for themselves ... I want them to come, (discuss), and (conclude) whether (an exhibition) is good or bad; whether it is positive or not.
Majlis is part of the exhibition's education platform. They (visitors) can talk about it. If I get a negative (feedback), I am not upset and would say I understand ... (their) point of view. We have (had) previous exhibitions focusing on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But ... to be in an Islamic museum, it is not necessary that you conduct an exhibition only on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Muslim world is much bigger than that.
It is very interesting. When we say Arabs, people think only about Muslims. When we say Muslims, people think about Arabs. Many people (coming to the Vatican Exhibition) are shocked when ... they see different countries that they (didn't associate) with Muslims like Spain,
People, at first, cannot relate
What makes the Vatican Exhibition unique?
People would not have expected
What are the positives that you expect from
Remember, this is Islamic Culture, not Islam (as a religion); it is about the culture in Islam. Culture is a much broader term and ... inclusive of what we have here, the (different) types of people and societies. (When) people think of an Islamic exhibition, they (think) they can see many paintings of calligraphy and different ... sizes of (the Holy) Quran. But, this is not the case. There is a small Quran there, and photographs of other objects like shoes, instruments and furniture ... You see the influence of Islamic culture in designs and patterns.
What do you think is the most visible and active role of the
As much as possible, we make sure that we are open to the widest audience ... All ages, all backgrounds ... We want them (all) to come to the Vatican Exhibition at the
We provide them a programme that allows people to really have fun and learn ... in a nice environment.
There was a talk here in the museum, when a member of the audience said that he was a English and not a Muslim and asked whether he could pose a question. I told him that precisely because he was not a Muslim, he should ask the question. I realise people are afraid to offend somebody. They are afraid to look stupid ... They should not be afraid. I want people to feel comfortable to ask ... questions. We may or may not be able to answer their questions. The best thing we can do is for you to have learnt something new.
How many visitors to do you see in a year on an average?
We get a million visitors in our museums.
How much increase are you expecting this year with the ongoing celebrations?
With the celebrations, I am hoping there will be an increase of at least 10 per cent.
What is the profile of your guests? Do you have guests from non-Muslim countries?
Yes, we do. Lots of tourists are from non-Muslim countries. The large majority of them are of a Russian background. Some are from
I urge people to take this opportunity to open their minds and their hearts to learn about Islam. It is always enriching.
When I travel to other countries, I like to visit churches. I go to museums for information and exhibitions. It is important to know what is going on around the world.
The aspiration is that you will have peace in the world; that you'll have better understanding of the world; better tolerance of the world. If you are sitting beside someone whose remark is ignorant or racist, you can correct him or her. (For that) you need to know more; or have the facts and be able to say, 'What you are saying does not make sense because many years or for generations, it has not been the case.'
I think that many people lack information. We are globalised and mixed in many ways. We have to be open and respectful of others.
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