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Religious intolerance persists in Saudi Arabia

Postmillennialism —  Leave a comment

I am responding to the April 1 Seacoast Sunday op-ed “When we are willing to believe anything.” The writer, Robert Azzi, questioned whether a letter I wrote to the editor had any validity since he could not find a source on the Internet.

I was referring to a Reuters article citing several Christian archbishops from Russia, Germany and Austria who were very troubled by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia saying it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the Arabian (Peninsula) region.” The grand mufti, who is the highest (Saudi) religious authority, reportedly said this on March 12. Don’t you think the grand mufti would have issued a rebuttal by now if it was untrue? An Internet search showed no rebuttal.

Azzi cited a document from the Prophet Mohammed on behalf of the monks from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai that covers “all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their properties.”

He says, “This is the Islam I embrace.”

Why then do official U.S. government documents show Saudi Arabia is violating human rights of Christians, Jews, and other religious groups, including other Muslims, who are not Sunni “Wahhabi” Muslims?

According to the newly released 2012 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom continue in Saudi Arabia.” The report says, “More than 10 years since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the Saudi government has failed to implement a number of promised reforms related to promoting freedom of thought, conscience, and or belief. The Saudi government … prohibits churches, synagogues, temples, and other non-Muslim places of worship, uses in its schools and posts online state textbooks that continue to espouse intolerance and incite violence, and periodically interferes with private religious practice.” Futhermore, the report says, “The government continues to prohibit foreign religious leaders from seeking and obtaining visas to enter Saudi Arabia.”

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