Muslim Leader Visits IRLA Headquarters

News May 2005


Mr Wisoot Binlateh with IRLA staff and invitees

Silver Spring, MD, USA… May 12, 2005. On his first visit to the United States of America, Mr. Wisoot Binlateh, director for the Department of Academic and Foreign Affairs at the Songkhla Islamic Center in Bangkok, Thailand, had the opportunity to meet with officials from the International Religious Liberty Association (IRLA) and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“I am very impressed with the work of the IRLA and the church,” he said. “Although Muslims are a minority in Thailand, we have been able to practice our religious beliefs though periodic tensions do arise among people of different religions. The mandate of our Islamic Center is to educate, train, and promote religious tolerance and respect in our communities.”

Giving a brief overview of the development of church-state relations in the U.S., legal counsel for the IRLA Mitchell Tyner said, “What other countries will find in the American experience is the development of a working system that achieves religious equality by requiring government to respect all faiths, but give preference to none.”

The study tour, coordinated by the International Visitor Program of the U.S. Department of State, is to provide opportunity to learn about multiculturalism within a democratic society, explore the assets of ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity bring to the U.S. society and government, and to survey the lives of Muslims and the Islamic community in this country.

“We have received several Muslim leaders of various associations from different countries,” said Dr. John Graz, secretary general for the IRLA. “It is always useful for us to understand others in a context of respect and openness. Mr. Wisoot Binlateh understands very well the challenge religious minorities have to face in many parts of the world.”

A non-denomination organization, the IRLA has worked to promote religious freedom since 1893 and is active through its affiliates in over 70 countries. For more information about the IRLA, visit www.irla.org. [Viola Hughes]