The Prince of Wales has stressed the need for “cultural connectivity” as he spoke of how fears of difference are being “stoked and spread through social media”.

Heir to the throne Charles was on a visit to Oxford to open the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies’ new building, next to Magdalen College.

The Prince, who has been patron of the OCIS since 1993, gave a speech in which he called for calm reflection and open dialogue across different faiths.

“There has perhaps never been a greater need for cultural connectivity,” he said.

“In the world in which we now live, with fears about ‘The Other’ – whether that be Sunni, Shia, Jew, Christian, Yazidi, Hindu or Buddhist – stoked and spread through social media, and amplified by those who would seek to suppress understanding, rather than promote it, there is an urgent need for calm reflection and a genuinely sustained, empathetic and open dialogue across boundaries of faith, ethnicity and culture.”

He said the centre had a clear mission to promote dialogue and understanding, and urged people to look at their common bonds.

The Prince added: “We need to rediscover and explore what unites rather than what divides us.

“And that involves a recognition that we have all learned from each other and should continue to do so. No one culture contains the complete truth.”

The OCIS, a recognised independent centre of Oxford University, aims to provide a meeting point between Islamic and Western worlds of learning.