Grand mufti of Saudi Arabia says all churches must be destroyed

Originally published in WND World

A Muslim leader in Saudi Arabia is calling for the destruction of all Christian churches in Kuwait because he believes that is what Islam demands, according to a report.

In an article published by the Middle East Forum, Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, cites several Arabic language web publications that quoted Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, declaring it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”

Ibrahim reported the Muslim leader’s comment was in response to a question by a delegation from Kuwait, where a member of parliament recently also called for churches to be removed.

“Accordingly, the grand mufti ‘stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it,’” Ibrahim reported.

“As with many grand muftis before him, the sheik based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam declared on his deathbed that, ‘There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula,’ which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region,” Ibrahim wrote.

The significance of the reports on the statement should not be underestimated, Ibrahim contended.

“Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah is not just some random Muslim hating on churches. He is the grand mufti of the nation that brought Islam to the world. Moreover, he is the president of the Supreme Council of Ulema [Islamic scholars] and chairman of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas. Accordingly, when it comes to what Islam teaches, his words are immensely authoritative,” he wrote.

In the Middle East, Christians already are facing increased persecution, including death, in countries where militant Islamic factions have stepped into the vacuum of power created by  “Arab Spring” revolutions.

For example, Coptic Christians who have worshiped in Egypt for millennia are reporting higher levels of persecution from Muslims. In North Africa, Muslims have promised to eradicate Christianity in some parts of the region. In Iraq, where Christians did not flourish but were given some accommodation under strongman Saddam Hussein, entire Christian populations have fled.

Wrote Ibrahim, “Considering the hysteria that besets the West whenever non-authoritative individuals offend Islam – for instance, a fringe, unknown pastor – imagine what would happen if a Christian counterpart to the grand mufti, say the pope, were to declare that all mosques in Italy must be destroyed; imagine the nonstop Western media frenzy that would erupt, all the shrill screams of ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigot,’ demands for apologies if not resignation, nonstop handwringing by sensitive politicians, and worse.”

But he said, “The grand mufti – the highest Islamic law authority of our ‘friend-and-ally’ Saudi Arabia – gets a free pass when he incites Muslims to destroy churches, not that any extra incitement is needed (nary a month goes by without several churches being bombed and destroyed throughout the Islamic world).”

WND reported from Jerusalem only weeks ago that a Lebanese parliamentarian, Samy Gemayel, said he “fears” for Christians in the Middle East.

Gemayel, a senior member of the Phalange party, said he had been warned about an assassination attempt on him.

As part of the Arab Spring, Islamic parties already have ascended to power in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Yemen and other countries face similar prospects, with Muslim Brotherhood-allied group standing to gain from any power-sharing system.

Since the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Coptic Christians have been facing a wave of Islamic attacks, including murders, rapes, church burnings and institutional intimidation. Some reports say more than 200,000 Copts already have fled their homes.

The Global Post quoted numerous Syrian Christians, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressing deep concern that if the secular regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad collapses, radical Islamic groups may gain power and persecute Christians.

Ibrahim also noted the dangerous foundation for the call to destroy churches.

The call, he said, “is simply based on a hadith. But when non-Muslims evoke hadiths – this one or the countless others that incite violence and intolerance against the ‘infidel’ – they are accused of being ‘Islamophobes,’ of intentionally slandering and misrepresenting Islam, of being obstacles on the road to ‘dialogue,’ and so forth.”

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