Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?
Assyrian International News Agency
Posted GMT 11-8-2005 20:58:28
Testimony Of Nina Shea, Director Center For Religious Freedom, Freedom House Before The Committee On The Judiciary U.S. Senate:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify before this distinguished Committee. On behalf of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, I wish to present the findings of the report, Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques, which Freedom House issued in January 2005, as well as some comments on the shortcomings of the Saudi government's response.
Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom decided to undertake this project after a number of Muslims and other experts publicly raised concerns about Saudi state influence on American religious life. It complements a May 2003 recommendation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent government agency, that the U.S. government conduct a study on Saudi involvement in propagating internationally a "religious ideology that explicitly promotes hate, intolerance, and other human rights violations, and in some cases violence, toward members of other religious groups, both Muslims and non-Muslims."
The Center's study addresses the question: Is Saudi Arabia, our purported ally in the War on Terror, responsible for having planted extremist propaganda within our borders?
In order to document Saudi influence, the material for this report was gathered from a selection of more than a dozen mosques and Islamic centers in American cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, and New York. In most cases, these sources, while representing a small fraction of the total number of mosques in the United States, are among the most prominent and well-established mosques in their areas. This study did not attempt any general survey of American mosques.
And, as the Center's website states in the electronic version of the report, "We have made no determination that these mosques endorsed any of these materials cited in these reports, or were even aware of their presence."
Many of the tracts in our study are in the voice of a senior authority.
One of them states: "Be dissociated from the infidels, hate them for their religion, leave them, never rely on them for support, do not admire them, and always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."
The advice of another is emphatic: "There is consensus on this matter, that whoever helps unbelievers against Muslims, regardless of what type of support he lends to them, he is an unbeliever himself."
Another book states that, if relations between Muslims and non-Muslims were harmonious, there would be "no loyalty and enmity, no more jihad and fighting to raise Allah's work on earth."
The books give detailed instructions on how to build a "wall of resentment" between the Muslim and the infidel: Never greet the Christian or Jew first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never befriend an infidel unless it is to convert him. Never imitate the infidel. Never work for an infidel. Do not wear a graduation gown because this imitates the infidel. The cover of the book giving this particular set of instructions states: "Greetings from the Cultural Department" of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C.
This book was published by the government of Saudi Arabia; it bears no publication date and was found in several locations. The other books are textbooks from the Saudi Education Ministry, and collections of fatwas, religious edicts, issued by the government's religious office, or published by other organizations based in Riyadh and monitored or controlled by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Between late 2004 and December 2005, researchers who are themselves Muslim Americans, gathered samples of over 200 such texts -- all from within America and all spread, sponsored or otherwise generated by Saudi Arabia. They demonstrate the ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabia to indoctrinate Muslims in the United States in the hostility and belligerence of Saudi Arabia's hardline Wahhabi sect of Islam.
The documents we analyzed all have some connection to the government of Saudi Arabia. While not all extremist works are Saudi, Saudi Arabia is overwhelmingly the state most responsible for the publications on the ideology of hate in America. Our findings are consistent with the assessment of the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. On July 13, 2005, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey testified before the Senate Banking Committee: "Saudi Arabia-based and funded organizations remain a key source for the promotion of ideologies used by terrorists and violent extremists around the world to justify their hate-filled agenda."
All Saudis must be Muslim, and the Saudi government, in collaboration with the country's religious establishment, enforces and imposes Wahhabism as the official state doctrine. In 2004, the United States State Department designated Saudi Arabia as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act after finding for many years that "religious freedom did not exist" in the Kingdom. The Saudi policy of denying religious freedom is explained in one of the tracts in this study: "Freedom of thinking requires permitting the denial of faith and attacking what is sacred, glorifying falsehood and defending the heretics, finding fault in religion and letting loose the ideas and pens to write of disbelief as one likes, and to put ornaments on sin as one likes."
The Wahhabi ideology that the Saudi monarchy enforces, and on which it bases its legitimacy, is shown in these documents as a fanatically bigoted, xenophobic and sometimes violent ideology. These publications articulate its wrathful dogma, rejecting the coexistence of different religions and explicitly condemning Christians, Jews, all other non-Muslims, as well as non-Wahhabi Muslims.
The various Saudi publications gathered for this study state that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews and warn against imitating, befriending, or helping such "infidels" in any way, or taking part in their festivities and celebrations. They instill contempt for America because the United States is ruled by legislated civil law rather than by totalitarian Wahhabi-style Islamic law. Some of the publications collected for this study direct Muslims not to take American citizenship as long as the country is ruled by infidels and tell them, while abroad, above all, to work for the creation of an Islamic state. The Saudi textbooks and documents our researchers collected preach a Nazi-like hatred for Jews, treat the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact, and avow that the Muslim's duty is to eliminate the state of Israel. Regarding women, the Saudi state publications in America instruct that they should be veiled, segregated from men and barred from certain employment and roles.
In these documents, other Muslims, especially those who advocate tolerance, are condemned as infidels. The opening fatwa in one Saudi embassy-distributed booklet responds to a question about a Muslim preacher in a European mosque who taught that it is not right to condemn Jews and Christians as infidels. The Saudi state cleric's reply rebukes the Muslim cleric: "He who casts doubts about their infidelity leaves no doubt about his." Since, under Saudi law, "apostates" from Islam can be sentenced to death, this is an implied death threat against the tolerant Muslim imam, as well as an incitement to vigilante violence. Sufi and Shiite Muslims are also viciously condemned. Other Saudi fatwas in the collection declare that Muslims who engage in genuine interfaith dialogue are also "unbelievers." As for a Muslim who fails to uphold Wahhabi sexual mores through homosexual activity or heterosexual activity outside of marriage, the edicts found in certain American mosques advise, "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money."  Regarding those who convert out of Islam, it is explicitly asserted, they "should be killed."
Much of the commentary in the West on Wahhabi hate ideology is restricted to shallow statements that it is "strict" or "puritanical." The Saudi publications in this study show that there is much more of concern to Americans in this ideology than rigid sexual codes. They show that it stresses a dualistic worldview in which there exist two antagonistic realms or abodes that can never be reconciled, and that when Muslims are in the land of the "infidel," they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines. Either they are there to acquire new knowledge and make money to be later employed in the jihad against the infidels, or they are there to proselytize the infidels until at least some convert to Islam. Any other reason for lingering among the unbelievers in their lands is illegitimate, and unless a Muslim leaves as quickly as possible, he or she is not a true Muslim and so too must be condemned. The message of these Saudi government publications and rulings is designed to breed greater aloofness, instill suspicion, and ultimately engender hatred for America and its people.
One insidious aspect of this propaganda is its aim to replace traditional and moderate interpretations of Islam with Wahhabi extremism. Wahhabism began only 250 years ago with the movement created by fanatical preacher Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Once a fringe sect in a remote part of the Arabian peninsula, Wahhabi extremism has been given global reach through Saudi government sponsorship and money, particularly over the past quarter century as it has competed with Iran in spreading its version of the faith. With its vast oil wealth and its position as guardian of Islam's two holiest sites, Saudi Arabia now claims to be the leading power within Islam and the protector of the faith, a belief stated in the Saudi Basic Law. Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser Adel al-Jubeir publicly states that "the role of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world is similar to the role of the Vatican."  Even as the Saudi state asserts that it strives to keep the faith "pure" and free of innovation, it invents a new role for itself as the only legitimate authority on Islam.
One example of how Saudi Arabia asserts its self-appointed role as the authoritative interpreter of Islam within the Muslim world is provided in a collection of fatwas published by the Saudi Embassy's Cultural Department in Washington. Its one-page introduction laments the dearth of competent Islamic scholars among Muslim emigrant communities abroad, and the confusion this has caused about Islamic beliefs and worship. The opening line reads, "The emigrant Muslim communities suffer in these countries from a lack of religious scholars (ulema)." It states that this deplorable situation has led the highest committee of Islamic scholars in the Kingdom to offer authoritative replies to questions frequently asked by Muslims living in the non-Muslim world. These replies are given in authoritative pronouncements that the introduction urges should be official guides for preachers, mosque imams, and students living far from the Kingdom.
A prolific source of fatwas condemning "infidels" in this collection was Sheik 'Abd al-'Aziz Bin 'Abdillah Bin Baz (died 1999), who was appointed by King Fahd in 1993 to the official post of Grand Mufti. As Grand Mufti, he was upheld by the government of Saudi Arabia as its highest religious authority. Bin Baz was a government appointee who received a regular government salary, served at the pleasure of the King, and presided over the Saudi Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and the Issuing of Fatwas, an office of the Saudi government. His radically dichotomous mode of thinking, coupled with his persistent demonizing of non-Muslims and tolerant Muslims, runs through the fatwas in these publications. Bin Baz was responsible for the unique fatwa, enforced in no other Muslim country, barring Saudi women from driving. Though Bin Baz is now dead, his fanatical fatwas continue to be treated as authoritative by the Saudi government.
As I previously stated, the Center has not attempted to measure the extent and effect of Saudi publications here. However, as the website of King Fahd states, "the cost of King Fahd's efforts in this field has been astronomical." Some, such as Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy who testified before this Committee in 2003, have estimated Saudi spending on the export of extremist ideology globally to measure three to four times what the Soviets spent on external propaganda during the height of the Cold War. As oil revenues rise for the Saudis, this might well increase.
Singapore's main newspaper recently published an interview with Sheik Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, the Lebanese-American chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America and a distinguished Islamic scholar: "Back in 1990, arriving for his first Friday prayers in an American mosque in Jersey City, he was shocked to hear Wahhabism being preached. 'What I heard there, I had never heard in my native Lebanon. I asked myself: Is Wahhabism active in America? So I started my research. Whichever mosque I went to, it was Wahhabi, Wahhabi, Wahhabi,Wahhabi.'"
In an interview on October 26, 2001, with PBS Frontline, Dr. Maher Hathout, identified by PBS as a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Southern California, this very question about Saudi influence in America is posed by the interviewer. Dr Hathout answered: "[T]hey send imams and books in Arabic. And these books are translated into English and the translation is not always very good. And they are talking about an environment that is obsolete, the world-view of the unbelievers fighting the believers. So it comes very irrelevant to the diversity and the pluralism in America. These books are all over the place, because they can afford to make very glossy magazines and distribute it for free" (emphasis added). MPAC has announced a policy of not accepting Saudi support.
Within worldwide Sunni Islam, followers of Wahhabism and other hardline or salafist (literally translated as venerable predecessors) movements remain a distinct minority. This is evident from the millions of Muslims who have chosen to make America their home and are upstanding, law-abiding citizens and neighbors. In fact it was just such concerned Muslims who first brought these publications to our attention. They decry the Wahhabi interpretation as being foreign to the toleration expressed in Islam and its injunction against coercion in religion. They believe they would be forbidden to practice the faith of their ancestors in today's Saudi Arabia, and are grateful to the United States and other Western nations for granting them religious freedom. They also affirm the importance of respecting non-Muslims, pointing to verses in the Koran that speak with kindness about non-Muslims. They raise examples of Islam's Prophet Mohammed visiting his sick Jewish neighbor, standing in deference at a Jew's funeral procession, settling a dispute in favor of a truthful Jew over a dishonest person who was Muslim, and forming alliances with Jews and polytheists, among others. They criticize the Wahhabis for distorting and even altering the text of the Koran in support of their bigotry. They say that in their tradition jihad is applicable only in the defense of Islam and Muslims, and that it is commendable, not an act of "infidelity," for Muslims, Jews, and Christians to engage in genuine dialogue.
Fifteen of the September 11 hijackers were Saudi subjects indoctrinated from young ages in just such Wahhabi ideology, possibly from some of the very same textbooks and fatwa collections in our study. Saudi state curriculum for many years has taught children to hate "the other" and support jihad, a malleable term that is used by terrorists to describe and justify their atrocities.
For example, a book for third-year high school students published by the Saudi Ministry of Education that was collected in Oakland, California, teaches students to prepare for jihad in the sense of war against Islam's enemies, and to strive to attain military self-sufficiency: "To be true Muslims, we must prepare and be ready for jihad in Allah's way. It is the duty of the citizen and the government. The military education is glued to faith and its meaning, and the duty to follow it."
Saudi commentators, themselves, have drawn the link between, on one hand, the large number of Saudis involved on September 11, and among the al Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and the insurgents in Iraq, and, on the other, the culture of religious rage and violence that is part of Saudi religious education. A study presented to a Saudi forum of 60 intellectuals, researchers, clerics and public figures, convened by Saudi then-Crown Prince Abdullah in December 2003 as part of a "National Dialogue" series, found "grave defects" in the religious curricula of the state's boys' schools, particularly with regard to "others," that is, non-Muslims and non-Wahhabi Muslims. The researchers concluded that this approach "encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other,'" according to a summary of the study by MEMRI. The Saudi forum concluded with recommendations for reforming the religious curriculum.
The Saudi government is currently waging a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in the United States, which among other activities advertised in American journals that the Kingdom's textbooks are being "updated." In an interview on October 14, 2005 with Barbara Walters, King Abdullah responded to a question about extremism and hatred in Saudi textbooks with the assurance, "We have toned them down."
We have not attempted to investigate this claim but we remain skeptical based on our own interviews last December of Saudi official religious scholars who denied that reform was necessary and said that textbook reform would have to "evolve slowly over many years," as well as other reports. We do not find it reassuring that, following the release of our study, the government of Saudi Arabia appointed as the new education minister a former director of the Muslim World League, Abdullah al Obeid. The Wall Street Journal reported (Feb. 9, 2005) that "Mr. Obeid was secretary general of MWL from 1995-2002, a period when the huge Saudi-government-funded organization fell under intense scrutiny from Asia to North America for spending tens of millions of dollars to finance the spread of Saudi Arabia's austere brand of fundamentalist Islam." It is one of the 25 Islamic organizations placed under investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for "financ[ing] terror and perpetuat[ing] violence."
What we have confirmed is that, as of ten months ago, the retrograde, unreformed editions of Saudi textbooks and state-sponsored fatwa collections remained in circulation in some prominent American mosques.
The global spread of Islamic extremism, such as Wahhabism, is the most serious ideological challenge of our times. Senator Jon Kyl, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Terrorism, who held hearings on Wahhabism, asserted: "A growing body of accepted evidence and expert research demonstrates that the Wahhabi ideology that dominates, finances and animates many groups here in the United States, indeed is antithetical to the values of tolerance, individualism and freedom as we conceive these things." The 9/11 Commission was even more emphatic that a threat is posed "even in affluent countries, [where] Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools are often the only Islamic schools," (page 370) and that "education that teaches tolerance, the dignity and value of each individual , and respect for different beliefs is a key element in any global strategy to eliminate Islamist terrorism."
Wahhabi extremism is more than hate speech; it is a totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence. The fact that a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, has been working to mainstream within our borders such hate ideology demands our urgent attention. This Committee and the press have previously examined the extremist infiltration of the prison and military chaplain programs in the United States. The Saudi textbooks and publications described in the Center's report could also pose a serious threat to American security and to the traditional American culture of religious toleration and freedom.
I believe that, not only does the government of Saudi Arabia not have a right to spread educational materials based on an ideology of religious hatred against Jews, Christians, other Muslims such as Shiites and Sufis, and others within U.S. borders, by the fact that it is a government actor and member of the United Nations, it is committing a human rights violation in doing so. A government that advocates religious intolerance and hatred violates the religious freedom and tolerance provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The September 2005 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, U.S. Agencies' Efforts to Address Islamic Extremism, indicates that recent Saudi claims to have made reforms cannot be taken at face value. They must be verified:
The GAO report concludes that while Saudi Arabia claims to have made reforms, and in some case has done so, "U.S. agencies do not know the extent of the Saudi government's efforts to limit the activities of Saudi sources that have allegedly propagated Islamic extremism outside of Saudi Arabia." (Emphasis added).
Specifically, the GAO reports that, "as of July 2005, agency officials did not know if the government of Saudi Arabia had taken steps to ensure that Saudi-funded curricula or religious activities in other countries do not propagate extremism." (Emphasis added).
The government of Saudi Arabia, and State and Treasury officials in the U.S. have publicly declared that Saudi Arabia is undertaking a number of charity reforms, including requiring all private Saudi donations marked for international distribution to flow through a new National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad. However, the GAO report found: "[A]s of July 2005, this commission was not yet fully operational, according to Treasury."
In 2004, Saudi Arabia and the United States announced they had jointly designated nine al Haramain Foundation offices as terrorist financiers, and Saudi Arabia announced its intentions to close down al Haramain Foundation. But the GAO report states that in May 2005 "a Treasury official told us it was unclear whether the Saudi government had implemented its plans." (Emphasis added).
These GAO assertions make clear that either the Saudis have failed to follow through on important reforms and/or the U.S. has failed to verify whether or not the reforms have been carried out. Either case is deeply troubling.
The GAO report concludes that, while U.S. government officials and other experts believe that the spread of Islamic extremism, rather than al Qaeda, is the "pre-eminent threat facing the United States," U.S. government agencies lack a common definition of Islamic extremism, as well as a coordinated approach to it. Furthermore, the GAO report concludes that "The agencies do not distinguish between efforts or programs intended to target Islamic extremism indigenous to a country and those intended to target outside influences, such as Saudi Arabia." (Emphasis added).
I urge this Committee to seriously consider the following recommendations, which are drawn from those of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent government agency:
The State Department Annual Report on International Religious Freedom should include in its reporting on Saudi Arabia an analysis of the content of Saudi textbooks and other Saudi state publications promoting or condoning anti-Semitism and religious hatred.
The U.S. government should issue a formal demarche urging the government of Saudi Arabia to cease funding or providing other support for written materials or activities that explicitly promote hate, intolerance, and human rights violations. Further it should urge the government of Saudi Arabia to:
Provide an accounting of what kinds of Saudi support have been and continue to be provided to which religious schools, mosques, centers of learning, and other religious organizations globally;
Stop funding religious activities abroad until the Saudis know the content of the teachings and are satisfied that they do not promote hatred, intolerance, or other human rights violations;
Monitor, regulate, and report publicly about the activities of Saudi charitable organizations based outside Saudi Arabia in countries throughout the world;
Cease granting diplomatic status to Islamic clerics and educators teaching outside Saudi Arabia, and close down any Islamic affairs sections in Saudi embassies throughout the world that have been responsible for propagating intolerance, as it has already apparently done within the U.S.;
Finally, even should the Saudis stop exporting and supporting extremist propaganda, their extremist textbooks, study guides, and fatwa collections will remain in circulation here and in other countries for years to come. Some American mosques have voluntarily made it their policy to screen out and reject Saudi-supplied educational materials and publications; this is an important model for all.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. This concludes my testimony.
 Full text of report available: www.freedomhouse.org/religion
 Schwartz, Stephen, The Two Faces of Islam, Doubleday, New York, NY, 2002.; Baer, Robert, Sleeping With the Devil, Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 2003. See also Mai Yamani's talk at Freedom House "State Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia: Impacts of a Religious Ideology of Intolerance and Hate," 21 October 2004; Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, http://www.cdhr.info/ ; Saudi Institute, http://www.saudiinstitute.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage &Itemid=1
 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Report on Saudi Arabia, May 2003.
 Loyalty and Dissociation in Islam. Riyadh: Ibn Taymiya Library, no date.
 Loyalty and Dissociation in Islam. Riyadh: Ibn Taymiya Library, no date.
 Verdict Regarding Celebrating the Year 2000 and the Call for the Unity of Religions. Riyadh: Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and the Issuing of Fatwas, 2000.
 Bin Baz, Sheik Abdul Aziz. Religious Edicts for the Immigrant Muslim. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Cultural Attaché in Washington, no date.
 In some instances, they have five connections. The publications under study each have at least two of the following links to Saudi Arabia. They are: official publications of a government ministry; distributed by the Saudi embassy; comprised of religious pronouncements and commentary by religious authorities appointed to state positions by the Saudi crown; representative of the established Wahhabi ideology of Saudi Arabia; and/or disseminated through a mosque or center supported by the Saudi crown.
In many examples, the Saudi link is readily apparent from the seal or name appearing on the cover of the publications of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, or of the Saudi cultural, educational or religious affairs ministries, or of the Saudi Air Force. While not all the mosques in the study may receive Saudi support, some of the mosques and centers, such as the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles and the Islamic Center in Washington, are openly acknowledged to receive official support by the Saudi king as recorded on his website (www.kingfahdbinabdulaziz.com ).
Furthermore, the Saudi government has directly staffed some of these institutions. The King Fahd mosque, the main mosque in Los Angeles, from which several of these publications were gathered, employed an imam, Fahad al Thumairy, who was an accredited diplomat of the Saudi Arabian consulate from 1996 until 2003, when he was barred from reentering the United States because of terrorist connections. The 9/11 Commission Report describes the imam as a "well-known figure at the King Fahd mosque and within the Los Angeles Muslim community," who was reputed to be an "Islamic fundamentalist and a strict adherent to orthodox Wahhabi doctrine" and observed that he "may have played a role in helping the [9/11] hijackers establish themselves on their arrival in Los Angeles" (Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY, pp. 216-217).
Several publications in this study were also gathered from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Fairfax, Virginia. According to investigative reports in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., served as chairman of this school's Board of Trustees, and some 16 other personnel there held Saudi diplomatic visas until they were expelled for extremism by the State Department in 2004 (Markon, Jerry and Susan, Schmidt, "Islamic Institute Raided in Fairfax; U.S. Agents Target Group Accused of Promoting Extremism," Washington Post, 2 July 2004). Until late 2003, the institute was an official adjunct campus of the Imam Mohammed Ibn-Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, part of Saudi Arabia's state-run university system, funded and controlled by the Saudi Ministry of Education (Simpson, Glenn, "A Muslim School Used by Military Has Troubling Ties," Wall Street Journal, 3 December 2003). Although Saudi Arabia claims to have severed official links with it, the Institute the Saudis established continues to operate in northern Virginia.
Some of the works were published by the Al-Haramain Foundation, run from Saudi Arabia with branch offices in the United States until the FBI blocked its assets in February 2004, finding that it was directly funding al Qaeda. In October 2004, the Saudi government's Ministry for Islamic Affairs announced its intentions to dissolve the foundation, and, according to a senior Saudi official, its assets would be folded into a new Saudi National Commission for Charitable Work Abroad. However, the US Government Accounting Office released its new report on Islamic Extremism (GAO-05-852, page 5) on September 22, 2005, in which it stated: "According to State, the government of Saudi Arabia also announced its intentions to close al Haramain Islamic Foundation, but in May 2005, a Treasury official told us it was unclear whether the government of Saudi Arabia had implemented its plans."
Some of the Wahhabi materials in this study were printed by publishers and libraries functioning as publishing houses in Saudi Arabia. Some of these are directly government-supported and-controlled, such as the King Fahd National Library and the General Presidency of the Administration of Scientific Research, Ifta', Da'wa and Guidance (General Administration for Printing and Translation). Others, which may be privately run, are monitored closely by the state, which does not grant the free right to expression, and, according to the State Department, the government's Ministry of Information has the authority to appoint and remove all editors-in-chief (U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Saudi Arabia Country Report on Human Rights Practices, February 2004).
 Alsawi, Dr. Salah. Ruling though Jurisprudence and the Opposition Claim. Riyadh: Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, 1992.
 Ajami, Fouad, "The Sentry's Solitude," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2001, p.2-16; Baer, Robert, Sleeping With the Devil, Crown Publishers, New York, NY, 2003.
 Rulings for Travelers and Emigrants, authored by Sheik Bin Baz and Sheik
Mohammad al-Salih Ibn al-Athimein and printed by the Saudi Arabian Airforce publishing house for distribution in the United States by the Cultural Department of
the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
 Bin Baz, Sheik Abdul Aziz. Reality of Monotheism and Polytheism. Riyadh: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, 2002.
 bin Uthaimin, Sheik. The Belief of Ahl Assuna wal Jammaat (The People of the Way and Community of the Prophet). Riyadh: The Ministry of Islamic Religious Affairs, 1995.
 Al-Jubeir, Adel, Saudi Foreign Policy Advisor, Interview by Tony Snow, Fox News Sunday, 18 May 2003.
 Bin Baz, Sheik Abdul Aziz. Religious Edicts for the Immigrant Muslim. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Cultural Attaché in Washington, no date.
 Simon, Mafoot, "A Sufi Muslim Takes on Wahhabism," Sunday Straits Times, 12 December 2004.
 "Interview with Maher Hathout." PBS Frontline, 26 October 2001.
 Reading. Riyadh: Ministry of Education, 1995.
 Dankowitz, Aluma, "Saudi Study Offers Critical Analysis of the Kingdom's Religious Curricula," Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), 9 November 2004.
 In December 2004, I met with a delegation of Saudi religious officials, including Sulaiman Muhammad al-Jarallah, the former director of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences of Fairfax, Virginia, and a current teacher at the government's Imam Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh who serves on a teacher training commission at the University and on the organizing committee for the National Dialogue. Dr. Jarallah replied to my question about the progress of such reform by stating that Saudi Arabia was a "conservative" society whose textbooks properly reflected religiously conservative values. After I raised specific examples of hate ideology expressed in the Saudi government textbooks, he sought to mitigate it by giving an example of a heavily veiled Saudi woman having difficulty getting a taxi in London. He added that "updating" the textbooks would take "many years" and "evolve slowly." Another Saudi participant, Ibrahim Abdullah Al-Sadan, also teaching at the Ibn Saud University and a former member of the Ministry of Education's Islamic Educational Reform project, said that the criticisms of the curriculum were unwarranted because the examples given at the National Dialogue were taken out of context. The meeting took place on December 14, 2004, at the Washington offices of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as part of an inter-faith dialogue sponsored through the US Institute for Peace. Also see, World Net Daily, "Saudi Sheik: 'Slavery is a Part of Islam'" The independent Saudi Information Agency reported that Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan who was recently taped justifying the enslavement of infidels in a lecture recorded by the Saudi Information Agency, remains a leading figure in the religious establishment that oversees this effort http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35518, 10 November 2003.
Muslim cleric arrested for the murder of a young Catholic
by Qaiser Felix
The cleric teaches at a madrassah
where two years ago Javed Anjum was tortured to death in order to convert him to
Islam. Both the victim’s father and the family’s lawyers are in danger. Muslim
extremists pack the court room during the trial.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – Almost two years after the murder of a young Catholic man, Javed Anjum, police arrested Umar Hayat, a madrassah teacher and one of his torturers. AsiaNews spoke to Khalil Tahir Sindhu, the lawyer representing the family of the 19-year-old murder victim. He relates the dangerous legal battle that he has had to pursue in an atmosphere marked by Islamic extremism, and launches an appeal for prayers on behalf of all the victims of the country’s discriminatory laws.
Umar Hayat, a Muslim cleric, was arrested in mid-January for torturing Javed Anjum together with two other teachers, Mohammed Tayyab and Ghulam Rasool, from the Jamia Hassan Bin Murtaza madrassah in Toba Tek Singh, Punjab province.
The three men are accused of trying to forcibly convert the Christian man to Islam over a five-day period in April 2004. After torturing him they handed Javed over to the police on false charges, but his wounds were too extensive and despite medical treatment he died in Faisalabad’s state hospital.
On his death bed, Javed named one of his persecutors, Ghulam Rasool, who was immediately arrested. During his interrogation Ghulam revealed that Mohammed Tayyab and Umar Hayat were his accomplices.
Tayyab later confessed his part in the crime and testified against Rasool and Hayat, said Sindhu.
“For our case,” the lawyer said, “it is a really good thing that the religious teacher who was free for 22 months is finally now behind bars. But we are not yet satisfied with what we think is a flawed investigation.”
For Sindhu, the police moved Hayat to a district prison in Jhangh without a proper inquiry and without recovering the instruments of torture.
And last January 15, Javed’s father, Pervez Masih, decided to appeal to the High Court in Lahore against the district judge’s refusal to admit his son’s videotaped deathbed testimony as part of the official evidence. “It is our right,” the lawyer explains, “under Pakistani law.”
The presence of many armed Islamic extremists at the trial—some inside, others outside the court room—is making matters worse according to Mr Sindhu. “They want to intimidate us, bring us to the point of withdrawing our charges and dropping the case altogether,” he lamented.
Mr Sindhu asked for and obtained a police escort for himself and Javed’s father Pervez, but in his petition to the district judge, the lawyer complained that the clerics and madrassah students present at the trial are not searched for weapons when they enter the court room.
Mr Sindhu ended his interview making an appeal: “Pray for me and for the lawyers who are involved in similar cases and for all the victims of discriminatory laws in Pakistan”.
Hayat and Rasool remain in prison in Jhang Sudr, near Toba Tek Singh. Tayyab was released on bail in December 2004.
Anonymous sources in Punjab have suggested that the Jamia Hassan Bin Murtaza madrassah has informal links with the fundamentalist group Sipah-e-Sahaba, which the government outlawed in 2002.
Nineteen Muslim teachers held in restive Thai south
By Nopporn Wong-Anan
Tuesday, March 28, 2006; 5:51 AM
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Nineteen teachers at an Islamic school founded by a top fugitive insurgent in the Thai south have been held on suspicion of involvement in two years of bloody separatist violence, officials said on Tuesday.
The arrests would fuel more resentment among ethnic Malays in the mainly Muslim region, where more than 1,100 people have been killed in the violence, Muslim leaders and lawyers said.
Security officials in Bangkok said the 19 men were arrested under a controversial emergency decree which allows detention of suspects without charge for 30 days.
The teachers at Thamma Wittaya School in the city of Yala were arrested last week after they came back from a curriculum preparatory meeting on an island off nearby Satun province, said a Bangkok-based Muslim lawyer who is working on the case.
"Police and soldiers went to search their houses and arrested them after they came back from the island," Kitcha Ali-ishoh, who also works for a Justice Ministry-appointed agency to bring peace to the south, told Reuters.
"This mass arrest as a result of their meeting, which was not a secret, will affect students when classes resume," he said.
Thai schools are on holiday until in mid-May.
At least six teachers from the school -- founded by Sapaeing Bazo, the most wanted separatist leader with 10 million baht ($257,000) on his head -- have been killed since the latest unrest began in January 2004.
Security agencies have named Sapaeing as a leader of the BRN Coordinate, one of the groups behind the violence in the region, and say he is believed to be hiding in Malaysia.
Several teachers and students at Thamma Wittaya, a school of 6,000 students which teaches both Islam and general subjects, have been arrested previously on suspicion of involvement in the two-year insurgency, police said.
Security officials told Reuters the 19 teachers were arrested because other suspects had implicated them during police interrogations and some of these teachers were educated in Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
"They claimed to have a meeting about the school curriculum, but why did they have to have it on a remote unknown island hardly ever visited by tourists," a Satun security official said.
A leading Islamic scholar in the region said arresting people on flimsy excuses would only raise more anger in a region which has seen bouts of separatist violence since annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand a century ago.
"I've told senior officials so many times that if they suspect someone, they should invite them for questioning, not just detain them with no charges," Yala provincial Islamic council chief Abdullahmee Cheseh said.
The government has tried many ways to end the violence and win the hearts and minds of the 1.8 million people in the region bordering Malaysia, from brute force to bombing the region with millions of paper "peace" birds by Air Force warplanes. But the violence persists.
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