MUSLIM LEADERS PRACTICE INTOLERANCE AND VIOLENCE

Indonesian Muslim leader gets jail for inciting violence

Thu Oct 30, 2008

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court sentenced the leader of a hardline Islamic group to 18 months in prison on Thursday for inciting violence at an interfaith rally in which dozens of people were injured.

Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders' Front, or FPI, which is famous for smashing up bars and nightclubs during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is an outspoken critic of Ahmadiyya, an Islamic sect that some Muslims consider heretical.

Thousands of Indonesians, including politicians, artists and religious leaders, gathered in central Jakarta in June to urge tolerance for Ahmadiyya, but the rally turned violent when Rizieq's supporters used poles to beat up women and the elderly, while the police did little to prevent the attacks. "Defendant Rizieq Shihab has been proven beyond reasonable doubt guilty of inciting others to commit violence," judge Panusunan Harahap told a central Jakarta court amid tight security.

Around 85 percent of Indonesians are Muslim and most are moderate, but with elections due next year, the government is facing increasing pressure from the Islamic parties and from a small but vocal minority of hardline groups.

Outside the court, police used tear gas as an angry crowd of FPI supporters tried to touch Rizieq following his sentencing. Some supporters carried sticks and threw plastic bottles at the police.

"I don't like my teacher being jailed for one-and-a-half years," said one man in the crowd who, like many of the FPI's supporters, was dressed in white robes.

Rizieq, who denied he is guilty, said he would appeal the sentence and continue his campaign to get the government to ban the Ahmadiyya sect.

 

Speech by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia to the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference


Putrajaya, Malaysia, October 16, 2003
Source: OIC Web site
Prime Minister Mahathir:

Alhamdulillah, All Praise be to Allah, by whose Grace and Blessings we, the leaders of the Organisation of Islamic Conference countries are gathered here today to confer and hopefully to plot a course for the future of Islam and the Muslim ummah worldwide ...

The whole world is looking at us. Certainly 1.3 billion Muslims, one-sixth of the world's population are placing their hopes in us, in this meeting, even though they may be cynical about our will and capacity to even decide to restore the honour of Islam and the Muslims, much less to free their brothers and sisters from the oppression and humiliation from which they suffer today.

I will not enumerate the instances of our humiliation and oppression, nor will I once again condemn our detractors and oppressors. It would be an exercise in futility because they are not going to change their attitudes just because we condemn them. If we are to recover our dignity and that of Islam, our religion, it is we who must decide, it is we who must act.

To begin with, the Governments of all the Muslim countries can close ranks and have a common stand if not on all issues, at least on some major ones, such as on Palestine. We are all Muslims. We are all oppressed. We are all being humiliated. But we who have been raised by Allah above our fellow Muslims to rule our countries have never really tried to act in concert in order to exhibit at our level the brotherhood and unity that Islam enjoins upon us. ...

From being a single ummah we have allowed ourselves to be divided into numerous sects, mazhabs and tarikats, each more concerned with claiming to be the true Islam than our oneness as the Islamic ummah. We fail to notice that our detractors and enemies do not care whether we are true Muslims or not. To them we are all Muslims, followers of a religion and a Prophet whom they declare promotes terrorism, and we are all their sworn enemies. They will attack and kill us, invade our lands, bring down our Governments whether we are Sunnis or Syiahs, Alawait or Druze or whatever. And we aid and abet them by attacking and weakening each other, and sometimes by doing their bidding, acting as their proxies to attack fellow Muslims. We try to bring down our Governments through violence, succeeding to weaken and impoverish our countries. ...

With all these developments over the centuries the ummah and the Muslim civilisation became so weak that at one time there was not a single Muslim country which was not colonised or hegemonised by the Europeans. But regaining independence did not help to strengthen the Muslims. Their states were weak and badly administered, constantly in a state of turmoil. The Europeans could do what they liked with Muslim territories. It is not surprising that they should excise Muslim land to create the state of Israel to solve their Jewish problem. Divided, the Muslims could do nothing effective to stop the Balfour and Zionist transgression.

Some would have us believe that, despite all these, our life is better than that of our detractors. Some believe that poverty is Islamic, sufferings and being oppressed are Islamic. This world is not for us. Ours are the joys of heaven in the afterlife. All that we have to do is to perform certain rituals, wear certain garments and put up a certain appearance. Our weakness, our backwardness and our inability to help our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed are part of the Will of Allah, the sufferings that we must endure before enjoying heaven in the hereafter. We must accept this fate that befalls us. We need not do anything. We can do nothing against the Will of Allah.

But is it true that it is the Will of Allah and that we can and should do nothing? Allah has said in Surah Ar-Ra'd verse 11 that He will not change the fate of a community until the community has tried to change its fate itself.

The early Muslims were as oppressed as we are presently. But after their sincere and determined efforts to help themselves in accordance with the teachings of Islam, Allah had helped them to defeat their enemies and to create a great and powerful Muslim civilisation. But what effort have we made especially with the resources that He has endowed us with.

We are now 1.3 billion strong. We have the biggest oil reserve in the world. We have great wealth. We are not as ignorant as the Jahilliah who embraced Islam. We are familiar with the workings of the world's economy and finances. We control 57 out of the 180 countries in the world. Our votes can make or break international organisations. Yet we seem more helpless than the small number of Jahilliah converts who accepted the Prophet as their leader. Why? Is it because of Allah's will or is it because we have interpreted our religion wrongly, or failed to abide by the correct teachings of our religion, or done the wrong things? ...

Today we, the whole Muslim ummah are treated with contempt and dishonour. Our religion is denigrated. Our holy places desecrated. Our countries are occupied. Our people starved and killed.

None of our countries are truly independent. We are under pressure to conform to our oppressors' wishes about how we should behave, how we should govern our lands, how we should think even.

Today if they want to raid our country, kill our people, destroy our villages and towns, there is nothing substantial that we can do. Is it Islam which has caused all these? Or is it that we have failed to do our duty according to our religion?

Our only reaction is to become more and more angry. Angry people cannot think properly. And so we find some of our people reacting irrationally. They launch their own attacks, killing just about anybody including fellow Muslims to vent their anger and frustration. Their Governments can do nothing to stop them. The enemy retaliates and puts more pressure on the Governments. And the Governments have no choice but to give in, to accept the directions of the enemy, literally to give up their independence of action.

With this their people and the ummah become angrier and turn against their own Governments. Every attempt at a peaceful solution is sabotaged by more indiscriminate attacks calculated to anger the enemy and prevent any peaceful settlement. But the attacks solve nothing. The Muslims simply get more oppressed.

There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right. They believe that things can only get worse. The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews. They will forever be poor, backward and weak. Some believe, as I have said, this is the Will of Allah, that the proper state of the Muslims is to be poor and oppressed in this world.

But is it true that we should do and can do nothing for ourselves? Is it true that 1.3 billion people can exert no power to save themselves from the humiliation and oppression inflicted upon them by a much smaller enemy? Can they only lash back blindly in anger? Is there no other way than to ask our young people to blow themselves up and kill people and invite the massacre of more of our own people?

It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way. And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strength, to plan, to strategise and then to counter attack. As Muslims we must seek guidance from the Al-Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Surely the 23 years' struggle of the Prophet can provide us with some guidance as to what we can and should do.

We know he and his early followers were oppressed by the Qhuraish. Did he launch retaliatory strikes? No. He was prepared to make strategic retreats. He sent his early followers to a Christian country and he himself later migrated to Madinah. There he gathered followers, built up his defence capability and ensured the security of his people. At Hudaibiyah he was prepared to accept an unfair treaty, against the wishes of his companions and followers. During the peace that followed he consolidated his strength and eventually he was able to enter Mecca and claim it for Islam. Even then he did not seek revenge. And the peoples of Mecca accepted Islam and many became his most powerful supporters, defending the Muslims against all their enemies.

That briefly is the story of the struggle of the Prophet. We talk so much about following the sunnah of the Prophet. We quote the instances and the traditions profusely. But we actually ignore all of them.

If we use the faculty to think that Allah has given us then we should know that we are acting irrationally. We fight without any objective, without any goal other than to hurt the enemy because they hurt us. Naively we expect them to surrender. We sacrifice lives unnecessarily, achieving nothing other than to attract more massive retaliation and humiliation.

It is surety time that we pause to think. But will this be wasting time? For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine. What have we achieved? Nothing. We are worse off than before. If we had paused to think then we could have devised a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory. Pausing and thinking calmly is not a waste of time. We have a need to make a strategic retreat and to calmly assess our situation.

We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something. Remember that the Prophet did not have many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars and the Muhajirins and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam.

Apart from the partial unity that we need, we must take stock of our assets. I have already mentioned our numbers and our oil wealth. In today's world we wield a lot of political, economic and financial clout, enough to make up for our weakness in military terms.

We also know that not all non-Muslims are against us. Some are welldisposed towards us. Some even see our enemies as their enemies. Even among the Jews there are many who do not approve of what the Israelis are doing.

We must not antagonise everyone. We must win their hearts and minds. We must win them to our side not by begging for help from them but by the honourable way that we struggle to help ourselves. We must not strengthen the enemy by pushing everyone into their camps through irresponsible and unIslamic acts. Remember Salah El Din and the way he fought against the so called Crusaders, King Richard of England in particular. Remember the considerateness of the Prophet to the enemies of Islam. We must do the same. It is winning the struggle that is important, not angry retaliation, not revenge.

We must build up our strength in every field, not just in armed might. Our countries must be stable and well administered, must be economically and financially strong, industrially competent and technologically advanced. This will take time, but it can be done and it will be time well spent. We are enjoined by our religion to be patient. Innallahamaasabirin. Obviously there is virtue in being patient.

But the defence of the ummah, the counter attack need not start only after we have put our houses in order. Even today we have sufficient assets to deploy against our detractors. It remains for us to identify them and to work out how to make use of them to stop the carnage caused by the enemy. This is entirely possible if we stop to think, to plan, to strategise and to take the first few critical steps. Even these few steps can yield positive results. ...

The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think.

They are already beginning to make mistakes. And they will make more mistakes. There may be windows of opportunity for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities.

But to do so we must get our acts right. Rhetoric is good. It helps us to expose the wrongs perpetrated against us, perhaps win us some sympathy and support. It may strengthen our spirit, our will and resolve, to face the enemy. ...

There are many things that we can do. There are many resources that we have at our disposal. What is needed is merely-the will to do it, As Muslims, we must be grateful for the guidance of our religion, we must do what needs to be done, willingly and with determination. Allah has not raised us, the leaders, above the others so we may enjoy power for ourselves only. The power we wield is for our people, for the ummah, for Islam. We must have the will to make use of this power judiciously, prudently, concertedly. Insyaallah we will triumph in the end.

I pray to Allah that this 10th Conference of the OIC in Putrajaya, Malaysia will give a new and positive direction to us, will be blessed with success by Him, Almighty Allah, Arahman, Arahirn.

Prime Minister's Office
Putrajaya

 

Senior Kuwaiti Official: "Katrina is a Wind of Torment and Evil from Allah Sent to This American Empire"

In reaction to Hurricane Katrina and the destruction in its wake, a high-ranking Kuwaiti official, Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, who is director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowment's research center, published an article titled "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah, But Not an Adherent of Al-Qaeda." [1] The article appeared August 31, 2005 in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa.

The following are excerpts from his article:

"The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah…"

"…As I watched the horrible sights of this wondrous storm, I was reminded of the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah [in the compilations] of Al-Bukhari and Abu Daoud. The Hadith says: 'The wind is of the wind of Allah, it comes from mercy or for the sake of torment. When you see it, do not curse it, [but rather] ask Allah for the good that is in it, and ask Allah for shelter from its evil.' Afterwards, I was [also] reminded of the words of the Prophet Muhammad: 'Do not curse the wind, as it is the fruit of Allah's planning. He who curses something that should not be cursed – the curse will come back to him.'

"When the satellite channels reported on the scope of the terrifying destruction in America [caused by] this wind, I was reminded of the words of [Prophet Muhammad]: 'The wind sends torment to one group of people, and sends mercy to others.' I do not think – and only Allah [really] knows – that this wind, which completely wiped out American cities in these days, is a wind of mercy and blessing. It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to this American empire. Out of my absolute belief in the truth of the words of the Prophet Muhammad, this wind is the fruit of the planning [of Allah], as is stated in the text of the Hadith of the Prophet.

"But I began to ask myself: Doesn't this country [the U.S.] claim to aspire to establish justice, freedom, and equality amongst the people? Isn't this country claiming that everything it did in Afghanistan and Iraq was for truth and justice? How can it be that these American claims are untrue, when we see how good prevails in the streets of Afghanistan, and how it became an oasis of security with America's entrance there? How can these American claims in the matter of Iraq be untrue, when we see that Iraq has become the most tranquil and secure country in the world?

"But how strange it is that after all the tremendous American achievements for the sake of humanity, these mighty winds come and evilly rip [America's] cities to shreds? Have the storms have joined the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization?"

"The Disaster Will Keep Striking the Unbelievers for What They Have Done"

"How sad I am for America. Here it is, poor thing, trying with all its might to lower oil prices which have reached heights unprecedented in all history. Along with America's phenomenal efforts to lower the price of oil in order to salvage its declining economy and its currency – that is still falling due to the 'smart' policy America is implementing in the world – comes this storm, the fruit of Allah's planning, so that [the price of] a barrel of oil will increase further still. By Allah, this is not schadenfreude.

"Oh honored gentlemen, I began to read about these winds, and I was surprised to discover that the American websites that are translated [into Arabic] are talking about the fact that that the storm Katrina is the fifth equatorial storm to strike Florida this year… and that a large part of the U.S. is subject every year to many storms that extract [a price of] dead, and completely destroy property. I said, Allah be praised, until when will these successive catastrophes strike them?

"But before I went to sleep, I opened the Koran and began to read in Surat Al-R'ad ['The Thunder' chapter], and stopped at these words [of Allah]: 'The disaster will keep striking the unbelievers for what they have done, or it will strike areas close to their territory, until the promise of Allah comes to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise. ' [Koran 13:31]."

 

Iran's president: Israel must be 'wiped off the map'

The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's hard-line president called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it.

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world," Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called "The World without Zionism."

"Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, (while) any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world," Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad also repeated the words of the founder of Iran's Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who called for the destruction of Israel.

"As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, who came to power in August and replaced Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who advocated international dialogue and tried to improve Iran's relations with the West.

Ahmadinejad referred to Israel's recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a "trick," saying Gaza was already a part of Palestinian lands and the pullout was designed to win acknowledgment of Israel by Islamic states.

"The fighting in Palestine is a war between the (whole) Islamic nation and the world of arrogance," Ahmadinejad said, using Tehran's propaganda epithet for the United States and Israel. "Today, Palestinians are representing the Islamic nation against arrogance."

Iran does not recognize the existence of Israel and has often called for its destruction.

Israel has been at the forefront of nations calling and end to Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and many others in the West say is aimed at acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Iran says the program is for generating electricity.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Ahmadinejad's comment "reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Baptiste Mattei condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks "with the utmost firmness."

Harsh words for Israel are common in Iran, especially at this time of year, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In Iran, this Friday — the last Muslim day of prayer in the Ramadan holiday — has been declared Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day. Rallies were slated in support of Palestinians — and against Israel's occupation of parts of the city and other Palestinian lands.

Other Iranian politicians also have issued anti-Israeli statements, in attempts to whip up support for Friday's nationwide Quds Day demonstrations.

But Ahmadinejad's strident anti-Israeli statements on the eve of the demonstration were harsher than those issued during the term of the reformist Khatami and harkened back to Khomeini's fiery speeches. Ahmadinejad was a longtime member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, which even operates a division dubbed the Quds Division, a rhetorical reference to Tehran's hopes of one day ending Israel's domination of Islam's third-holiest city.

After his election, Ahmadinejad received the support of the powerful hard-line Revolutionary Guards, who report directly to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last year, a senior member of the guards attended a meeting that called for and accepted applications for suicide bombers to target U.S. troops and Israelis.

Iran announced earlier this year that it had fully developed solid fuel technology for missiles, a major breakthrough that increases their accuracy.

The Shahab-3, with a range of 810 miles to 1,200 miles, is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East.

 

Iran Leader Reiterates Anti-Israel Stance

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
Friday, October 28, 2005
(10-28) 14:39 PDT TEHRAN, Iran (AP) --

Iran's ultraconservative president — spurning international outrage over his remarks about Israel — joined more than a million demonstrators who flooded the streets of the capital and other major cities Friday to back his call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood fast behind his assertion that Israel should be wiped off the map and repeated the call during the nationwide protests Friday, the Muslim day of prayer.

But in an apparent attempt to blunt international outrage over Ahmadinejad's comments, the Iranian Embassy in Moscow issued a statement saying the Iranian leader did not want to "engage in a conflict."

Marching alongside the protesters, the 47-year-old former mayor of Tehran and one-time Republican Guard commander renewed his criticism of the West.

"They become upset when they hear any voice of truth-seeking. They think they are the absolute rulers of the world," he said during the al-Quds — or Jerusalem — Day protest, which was among the largest since they were first held in 1979 after Shiite Muslim clerics took power in Iran.

His fellow marchers carried placards reading "Death to Israel, death to America." It is not uncommon for an Iranian president to join marches in the capital. Ahmadinejad was accompanied by five bodyguards, but otherwise security was not out of the ordinary for such an event.

Despite Ahmadinejad's continued harsh attacks on the West, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani tried to dial back the rhetoric, suggesting that Israelis and Palestinians hold a referendum to decide the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

"If Muslims and Palestinians agree (to a referendum), it will be a retreat but let's still hold a referendum," Rafsanjani said in his Friday prayer sermon.

The Iranian Embassy statement in Moscow said Ahmadinejad "did not have any intention to speak in sharp terms and engage in a conflict."

But that was not the message carried by the at least 200,000 Iranians who massed in Tehran to unleashed virulent condemnation against Israel, the United States and the West in general, accusing them of oppressing Palestinians and Iran.

Some demonstrators chanted "Israel is approaching its death" and wore white shrouds in a symbolic gesture expressing readiness to die for their cause.

A resolution was read at the end of the rallies backing "the position declared by the president that the Zionist regime must be wiped out."

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki defended his president's comments, saying they represented Iran's long-held policy of not recognizing Israel.

"Unfortunately the Western countries have remained silent on the increasing inhuman activities of Israel," Mottaki said at the Tehran march.

Protests attracted at least 100,000 in each of Iran's eight largest cities, according to AP reporters. State television said millions of people assembled throughout the country. Major rallies also were held in other Middle Eastern countries.

In Beirut, the militant Hezbollah group marked the day by staging a parade that saw more than 6,000 guerrillas march in uniform through the streets of the Lebanese capital.

The Shiite group, which supports it Iranian mentors, has sought to strengthen its position in Lebanon after the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

At least 30,000 Bahrainis marched in their capital, Manama, burning Israeli and American flags and demanding their government rescind its recent decision to end its economic embargo of the Jewish state.

The United States said the Iranian leader's remarks have only underscored Washington's concern over Iran's nuclear program. Israel said Iran should be suspended from the United Nations. U.N. chief Kofi Annan expressed "dismay" at the comments in a rare rebuke of a U.N. member state.

The Vatican condemned as "unacceptable" statements denying the right of Israel to exist, although it did not mention Iran by name. The U.N. Security Council also condemned the remarks, while Russia summoned the Iranian ambassador seeking an explanation for the president's words.

Iran's seven state-run TV stations devoted coverage Friday to programs condemning the Jewish state and praising the Palestinian resistance since the 1948 creation of Israel.

Three stations also showed live coverage of crowds of people gathering Friday in streets throughout Tehran.

In Washington, the State Department said it was skeptical the demonstrators had gone into the streets voluntarily.

"I think you have over the past decade seen examples of the Iranian regime organizing protests in support of some of their more outrageous policies," spokesman Sean McCormack said.

After Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini toppled the pro-Western Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979, he declared the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as an international day of struggle against Israel and for the liberation of Jerusalem. The founder of the Islamic regime had also called for Israel's destruction.

 

Iran's Ahmadinejad wants Israel moved to Europe

12-08-2005, 16h50
TEHRAN (AFP)
 

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triggered new international outcry by saying the "tumour" of the state of Israel should be relocated to Europe.

His remarks were greeted with outrage from Germany, Austria, Israel and the United States, at the forefront of an international campaign to prevent the Islamic regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad, who in October said arch-enemy Israel must be "wiped off the map", said that if Germany and Austria believed Jews were massacred during World War II, a state of Israel should be established on their soil.

"You believe the Jews were oppressed, why should the Palestinian Muslims have to pay the price?" he asked in an interview with Iranian state television's Arabic-language satellite channel, Al-Alam.

"You oppressed them, so give a part of Europe to the Zionist regime so they can establish any government they want. We would support it," he said, according to a transcript of his original Farsi-language comments given to AFP.

"So, Germany and Austria, come and give one, two or any number of your provinces to the Zionist regime so they can create a country there... and the problem will be solved at its root," he said.

"Why do they insist on imposing themselves on other powers and creating a tumour so there is always tension and conflict?"

Ahmadinejad, a straight-talking former commando who swept to the presidency after a shock election win in June, is no stranger to controversy.

"Unfortunately this is not the first time that the Iranian leader has expressed outrageous and racist views towards Jews and Israel," said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

"I hope that these outrageous remarks will be a wake-up call to people who have any illusions about the nature of the regime in Iran."

Israel's views were echoed by the United States, its closest ally.

"It just further underscores our concerns about the regime in Iran. And it's all the more reason why it's so important that the regime not have the ability to develop nuclear weapons," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Ahmadinejad's combative suggestion that Israel was "totally unacceptable" and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, speaking after a meeting with US President George W. Bush, called the remarks "an outrageous gaffe, which I want to repudiate in the sharpest manner."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the EU's nuclear diplomacy is "not made easier by the fact that Mr Ahmadinejad comes up with new ideas, that the people of Israel could move to Germany and Austria, to resolve the Middle East problem".

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also condemned the remarks.

In Ahmadinejad's interview, he referred to the Holocaust as a matter of belief, and raised the issue of revisionist historians -- who attempt to establish that figures on the number of Jews killed by the Nazis are wildly exaggerated -- being prosecuted in Europe.

"Is it not true that European countries insist that they committed a Jewish genocide? They say that Hitler burned millions of Jews in furnaces... and exiled them," he said.

"Then because the Jews have been oppressed during the Second World War, therefore they (the Europeans) have to support the occupying regime of Qods (Jerusalem). We do not accept this."

The Holocaust was Nazi Germany's systematic slaughter of an estimated six million Jews between 1933 and 1945.

Official Iranian media frequently carry sympathetic interviews with Holocaust revisionists, and the regime itself also refuses to recognise Israel.

Ahmadinejad also proposed "a referendum in Palestine for all the original Palestinians" to decide on the future of what is now Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

But he said "the best solution is resistance so that the enemies of the Palestinians accept the reality and the right of the Palestinian people to have land."

He was speaking in the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia where he was attending a summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

After calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" in October, Iran was chastised by the UN Security Council and drew fierce condemnation from the West -- already alarmed over Iran's nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile programme.

A scheduled visit to Iran by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was also called off as a result of the remark.

Ahmadinejad's tone has also been a major departure from his pro-reform predecessor Mohammad Khatami, who had eased anti-Western rhetoric and sought to bring Iran out of international isolation by calling for a "dialogue among civilisations".

 

Egypt's Brotherhood leader calls Holocaust a myth
Thu Dec 22, 2005 9:39 AM ET

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in parliament, echoed Iran's president on Thursday in describing the World War Two Holocaust of European Jews as a myth.

"Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned," Mohamed Mahdi Akef said in a statement.

Akef cited as evidence of Western intolerance the cases of French writer Roger Garoudy, who was convicted in France in 1998 of questioning the Holocaust, and British historian David Irving, who faces similar charges in Austria next month.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked an international uproar when he said in a December 14 speech that the Holocaust was a myth.

Some 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945.

Akef, whose group won 88 of the Egyptian parliament's 454 seats in elections in November and December, made his comment in an attack on the United States' assertion that it is promoting democracy in the Middle East.

He said the U.S. campaign was a cover for promoting its own interests and those of the Zionist movement in the region.

"American democracy ... steers the world into the American orbit delineated by the sons of Zion, so that everyone must wear the Stars and Stripes hat and keep away from the Zionist foster child," he wrote in his weekly statement.

He accused the U.S. House of Representatives of hypocrisy when it threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if the Islamist movement Hamas takes part in January elections.

He also criticized European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana for saying that Europeans might think twice about aid to the Palestinians if Hamas members were in parliament.

Hamas says it is an extension of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928 and which renounced political violence inside Egypt decades ago. Hamas believes in armed struggle to replace Israel with an Islamic state.

Last week the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Mohamed Habib, asked about Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, said reports of Nazi attempts to wipe out European Jews might have been exaggerated.

"We don't have confirmed things to enable us to prove this matter or refute it. It needs documentation but what one can be sure of is that there were attacks on the Jews but not by means of gas chambers or perhaps not in these numbers or on this scale," Habib told Reuters in an interview.

But Habib said the debate was irrelevant to the situation of the Palestinians. "What the Jews propagate about there being a Holocaust has nothing to do with the way they treat the Palestinians on the land of Palestine," he said.

Mo-ham-mad the terrorist said: "Fight those who believe not in allah, nor in the last day, nor forbid that which allah and his messenger have forbidden, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.  And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of allah. These are the words of their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before.  Allah's curse be on them!  How they are turned away! Qu'ran 9:29-30. 

There are about 13 million Jews in the world. The largest Jewish population--about 6 million--lives in the United States. About 41/2 million Jews live in Israel. Other countries with large numbers of Jews include France, Russia, Britain, Canada, and Argentina.  2002 World Book Encyclopedia.

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