To coincide with the Festival the Islamic Council of Europe, in cooperation with King 'Abd al-'Aziz University in Jiddah, scheduled an International Islamic Conference, the first to be held in Europe. Like the Festival, the conference was an overwhelming success. At the inaugural session some 7,000 people filled Albert Hall's seats; nearly 14,000 more had to stand and later sessions had to be televised.
In opening the conference, Prince Muhammad ibn Faisal of Saudi Arabia welcomed the new Western interest in Islamic culture and Muslim contributions to art, science and technology. But, he added, "What is important at this critical junction is that the real focus of attention should be on the message of Islam, on the vision of man and society that Islam gives, for all aspects of Islamic culture are but manifestations of this reality."
The chairman of the conference, Salem Azzam, said there were more than 25 million Muslims living in Europe, making Islam the second largest religion on the continent. The Islamic Council of Europe, he said, faces two major tasks. The first is the preservation and promotion of the religious and cultural life of the Muslims of Europe. The second is the development of a better understanding of Islam and Muslim culture in the West.