Sunday, 18 March 2012

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia calls for the destruction of churches in the Arabian Peninsula

Can you imagine the Archbishop of Canterbury or even the Pope calling for the destruction of mosques in Europe? You can expect the predictable outcry that would cause. Most of the Muslim world and the Western media will erupt into a frenzy of heated criticism, with usual shrill cries of ‘bigot’ and demands for apologies. Yet the recent remarks by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, that churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed have gone almost unnoticed. Only a few media organisations like Russia Today have given this any publicity.

The Grand Mufti made his controversial remarks in response to a question from a Kuwaiti NGO, the Society of the Revival of Islamic Heritage. He cited the Prophet Mohammed, who said the Arabian Peninsula should exist only under one religion. Of course, in Saudi Arabia the Mufti already has his way because there are no churches there. The Saudi government has never allowed the construction of any church in the country or for non-Muslims to meet and worship.  Other Gulf States do allow some Christian worship but with very strict restrictions in place.

What the Grand Mufti said will have an impact. He is not some marginal figure but the chief religious authority of Saudi Arabia, one of the main centres of Sunni Islam. His remarks should therefore be taken seriously.

Compare the reaction to the Grand Mufti’s remarks and the outcry over one obscure American pastor last year. It seemed as though the future of world peace was at stake when Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn a Koran. Never mind he had a following of only about thirty people. Even Western leaders like President Obama stepped into the controversy with all the accompanying apologetic handwringing.

Can we expect David Cameron, Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton to issue similar criticisms of the Grand Mufti’s remarks or even speak about the plight of Christians in Saudi Arabia? I doubt it very much. The American and British elites have very close relations with their Saudi counterparts, the House of Saud. In return for oil, America provides Saudi Arabia with a security guarantor; and despite a terrible human rights record, Western leaders are careful not to criticise Saudi Arabia publicly. Even the official report into the 9/11 tragedy was heavily redacted so as not to offend Saudi Arabia from where most of the hijackers came from.

All this highlights the issue of “reciprocity,” which Pope Benedict XVI has constantly talked about. As Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith says in the Catholic Herald, reciprocity means “effectively that Muslims should grant to Christians the same freedoms that Christians grant to Muslims. Just as the Italian state has allowed the building of a mosque in Rome, our holy city, so should we be allowed to build a church in Riyadh or even Mecca.”

It may be highly optimistic to expect to see a church in Riyadh or Mecca, but I don’t think it is unreasonable to at least question the controversial remarks made by the Grand Mufti. Just as Muslims are allowed to freely worship in non-Muslim countries, Christians should have every right to worship in Muslim countries.

7 comments:

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello JL,

Greetings and good wishes.

Many thanks for leaving an interesting comment in my blog. I am planning to use it as my next post.

I am reading a story book by Jill McGivering titled FAR FROM MY FATHER'S HOUSE.Jill was a senior news correspondent of BBC. The story is all about the Taliban atrocities in the Swat Valley in Pakistan and about the plight of the refugees who had to flee from their homes leaving their peaceful life. The cruelty of Taliban and sufferings of people which Jill describes are heart breaking.

As regards destroying churches in Saudi Arabia, Christian nations are not controlled by fanatics as is the case with Muslim countries. But if you ask me they should be treated in the same way as they treat us. Only then they will learn. If we keep quiet other Muslim countries will take the hint and start demolishing our Churches and persecuting the Christians.

I am all for recovering BETHLEHEM the birth place of Jesus for Christians. Muslims should be put in their place.

However the problem with Christian countries is that they want to get the oil and money of Muslim countries.One Christian country will cut down the other Christian country when it comes to getting favors from Muslim countries.

Your post is an eye opener showing the evil thinking of the Mufti who is in a position to influence the minds of many young Muslims.

You are aware of what is happening in the case of Iran. Countries are pussy footing in taking a firm stand against Iran.

Wish you all the best,
Joseph

JI said...

Hi Joseph,

Western governments stoop to all sorts of levels to achieve their economic interests. Saudi Arabia is the de facto oil supplier for America. Therefore it escapes any criticism by the West. As long as the House of Saud keeps supplying the oil, and they spend lots of money buying arms, the Westerners are happy. It's worrying that the highest religious authority in the land can make such comments and get away with it. His comments will have an impact.

Regarding Iran, I'm not sure a military strike is the best option. It could have devastating consequences both for Iran and the rest of the world. Again, I think Western meddling in Iran has to a large extent contributed to the situation we have today. The CIA and MI6 overthrew a legitimate popular government under Prime Minister Musaddiq and installed a brutal dictator, the Shah, all because Musaddiq wanted to nationalise the oil industry and use the oil wealth for the betterment of his country. That was too much for the British. The Shah's repression is what led to the Iranian Revolution and the Mullatariat we have today.

We live in interesting times. Discrimination and persecution of Christians is increasing worldwide. Even in the West this is happening. You can not call these countries 'Christian' any more. They are largely atheist. But all of this is predicted in the Bible. In the last days there will be little faith and the remnant will be persecuted.

Best wishes,
JI.

P.N. Subramanian said...

I respect your sentiments.

....Petty Witter said...

Hello JI, Visiting from Joseph Pulikotil's site. It's great to meet another English blogger, to read their thoughts on the world we live in. Thanks for an interesting post, it certainly gave me something to think about, PW.

Anonymous said...

what surprised me the most , the western media did not make a big deal out of this , i did not hear it on BBC , Sky , CNN , CNBC , France24 ..etc.. if this had been uttered by an iranian cleric it would have caused a sensation . i wonder if Saudi Arabia pays off generously to be left off the hook

Anonymous said...

I just remembered 38 Ethopians have been kicked out of Saudi Arabia last year because they were caught celebrating christmas together , but only blogs and independent sources have announced such a thing , and no western media mentioned such a shameful act . Christians are to be respected in islam but the wahabis do not . and get away with it too .

JI said...

Good point about the difference in reaction to a Saudi cleric compared to an Iranian one. If it's an Iranian one, the reaction fits into an existing political agenda.

Wahabi Islam is an extreme version of Islam, and the Saudis with their petro-dollars have been exporting for decades.