Saudis Accused of Spreading 'Hate Propaganda' in US

By Patrick Goodenough | February 1, 2005 | 7:22pm EST

( - A week before the Saudi government hosts an international counter-terrorism conference, a major new report has accused the kingdom's rulers of spreading "hate propaganda" among Muslims inside the United States, including exhortations to hate Christians and Jews.

In documents distributed by the Saudi authorities, Muslims living in the U.S. are being urged to "behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines," according to the report by the Center for Religious Freedom, an arm of the U.S. human rights group Freedom House.

And in an echo of recent statements by al-Qaeda terrorists Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the documents also condemn democracy as un-Islamic.

The 89-page report deals with more than 200 pieces of religious literature promoting Saudi Arabia's extremist Wahhabi ideology, produced or provided by various government ministries and other bodies and disseminated to mosques in the U.S.

It concludes that the writings reflect a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence."

The center examined literature, mostly in Arabic, available at mosques and Islamic facilities in Washington, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif.

Among other things, the documents teach:

- that Muslims who convert to Christianity or Judaism are apostates who "should be killed" because they have denied the Koran;

- that in the case of a Muslim who fails to uphold Wahhabi sexual mores on adultery or homosexuality, "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money";

- that Muslims have a religious obligation to hate Christians and Jews, and should not help, befriend or imitate them, or take part in their festivals and celebrations;

- that Muslims living in the lands of unbelievers must behave as though on a mission behind enemy lines: they are either there to acquire knowledge or make money to be used later in the jihad against unbelievers, or they are there to convert some infidels to Islam. Any other reason for lingering in such countries is illegitimate, and anyone doing so is not a true Muslim and should be condemned;

- that women should be veiled, segregated from men and be barred from certain jobs; and

- that Muslims who do not follow the Wahhabi doctrines, and especially those who advocate tolerance, are infidels.

The report's author and center director, Nina Shea, wrote in the introduction that neither the First Amendment nor any other legal documents gives the Saudi government the right to spread hate ideology within U.S. borders.

It was, furthermore, "committing a human rights violation by doing so."

The center said the study, which was carried out over a one-year period, was undertaken after many Muslims had asked for "help in exposing Saudi extremism in the hope of freeing their communities from ideological strangulation."

'Islam advocates moderation'

Shea is also a member of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a body established under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to give independent recommendations to the executive branch and Congress.

The USCIRF for several years urged the State Department to designate Saudi Arabia as a "country of particular concern" for egregious religious rights violations. Eventually, late last year the department did add Saudi Arabia to the list, which also includes such countries as China, Sudan and North Korea.

The USCIRF has also recommended that an official study be carried out into the export by the Saudis of hate ideology around the world.

Shea said Freedom House endorsed that call, and added that the U.S. should not delay in making an official protest to the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Saudi institutions and charities are known to fund Islamic facilities in many Muslim and non-Muslim countries around the world.

In places like Pakistan and Indonesia, these include Islamic schools where students are taught the ideology of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist sect named after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a 16th century Arabian scholar.

Both the Saudi government and al-Qaeda - a group the Saudi rulers call "deviant" - espouse Wahhabism.

A series of terrorist attacks targeting foreigners inside Saudi Arabia, attributed to al-Qaeda, has killed more than 100 people, and later this week the kingdom hosts an international conference on combating terrorism.

In a statement released by the kingdom's embassy in Washington, Minister of Islamic Affairs Saleh bin Abdulaziz al-Ashaikh - whose ministry is responsible for some of the literature featured in the Center for Religious Freedom report - urged Saudis to support the event.

"It is high time for the ulama [Muslim scholars], and all thinkers, intellectuals and academics, to shoulder their responsibility towards the enlightenment of the people, especially the young people, and protect them from deviant ideas," he said.

The statement said the minister also "pointed out that Islam advocates moderation, avoidance of bloodshed, and obedience to those ruling."

It said his ministry had instructed "Islamic propagation centers" across the country to hold special lectures dealing with topics such as "moderation in Islam" and "peace and justice in Islam."

The conference in Riyadh runs from Feb. 5-8, and is being attended by delegates from 49 countries, including the U.S., as well as several international organizations.

Topics to be discussed at the gathering will include the "roots of terrorism" and the "culture of terrorism," according to a statement from the organizers, carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is concerned with mobilizing international efforts to confront and uproot terrorism, prevent its growth, and stop its funding sources."

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at Monday's press briefing in Washington that he had not seen the Center for Religious Freedom's report but would look into it.

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