In a move believed to be the first of its kind, Dutch broadcasting companies Radio Netherlands Worldwide and IKON in Hilversum yesterday launched the integral texts of the Bible and the Qu'ran alongside each other on one website.
The site appears in Dutch, English and Arabic at the same time.
The objective of the site is to build a bridge between Muslims and Christians.
The website makes it possible for anyone to access the two books anonymously.
A universal search function makes it possible to search the texts using any word and to compare them. The site shows the frequency of the word in each of the books and also displays all relevant parts of the text.
The results are surprising. A word such as 'virgin' for example appears 16 times in the Bible compared to twice in the Qu'ran.
To help visitors in their search through the voluminous books, the site contains a selection of eighteen similar stories, in both the Qu'ran and the Bible.
Around 150 people connected to this issue attended a festive multi-cultural and international gathering yesterday (Thursday) to launch the website at the Institute for Sound and Vision in the Media Park in Hilversum.
The main speaker, who flew over from England, was advisor to the Council of Europe and controller of editorial policy at the BBC, Stephen Whittle.
In a video message, Arabist and philosopher Tariq Ramadam also stressed the international importance of the website for the dialogue between Muslims and Christians. "If we want to promote mutual respect we need knowledge of the other text, but in a humble way. Every one of us should be committed to get knowledge from the website."
Dutch Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar also enthusiastically welcomed the new initiative.