- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Media coverage of the Middle East has always been deficient in one area: Foreign correspondents have forever ignored the mosque and what the imams are telling their congregations.
Arab government spokesmen speaking excellent English tell correspondents what supposedly they need to know. The Friday mosque sermons are in Arabic and there's nobody around to do instant translations, and so a great source of political opinion remains unreported to Western audiences. It should be remembered that the taped sermons of the exiled Imam Khomeini smuggled into Iran for years finally culminated in a revolution that dethroned the shah in 1979 and transformed a shaky ally into an unswerving enemy.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has just released translations of Friday sermons delivered in the main mosques of Saudi Arabia. These sermons are available on a Saudi-based website www.alminbar.net. (Alminbar means "pulpit" in Arabic.) The Web site, created in July 1999, is reportedly visited weekly by some 3,000 imams from 62 countries and territories.
Too bad amateur diplomats like the New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman didn't see these sermons when he was peddling Saudi "peace" proposals. Reading these Saudi mosque sermons, with their savage attacks on Jews and Christians, helps explain why 15 of the 19 terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon were Saudi citizens. These mosques are supported financially by the Saudi government in the name of Wahabism, a highly orthodox version of Islam.
The majority of sermons discuss Christians and Jews concurrently and disparagingly. However, some sermons specifically target Christians and Christianity, especially Pope John Paul II. In a sermon delivered at the Al-Salaam mosque in Al-Unayzah, Sheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-Qadhi said: "Today we will talk about one of the distorted religions, about a faith that deviates from the path of righteousness. about Christianity, this false faith, and about the people whom Allah described in his book as deviating from the path of righteousness. We will examine their faith, and we will review their history, full of hate, abomination, and wars against Islam and the Muslims."
Appeals for interreligious harmony are a particular target of Friday preachers. Sheikh Adnan Ahmad Siyami in a sermon at a Mecca mosque lashed out at Pope John Paul's recent visit to Syria as an attempt to "facilitate the conversion to Christianity in Muslim lands." He is quoted as saying:
"The call by [the pope] may Allah punish him as he deserves to the people of the [different] religions in Syria to live in peaceful coexistence is nothing more than an audacious call for the unification of religions, in accordance with the principle of human religious harmony. This pope, the head of the Catholic Church, and those behind him calling for the unification of the religions, are the descendants of the Spanish inquisitors who tortured the Muslims most abominably. They are the descendants of those who led the Crusades to the Islamic East, in which thousands of Muslims were killed and their wives taken captive in uncountable numbers. Can we expect compassion from these murderous wolves? What made the pope go on his visit was his dissatisfaction with the robbing only of the Muslims' lands; he wanted also to rob their religion, so that they lose both this world and the hereafter."
Another target of the Saudi Mosque is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Sheikh Sa'd Bin Abdallah Al-'Ajameh Al-Ghamdi in a sermon delivered at the Sa'id Al-Jandoul mosque in Al-Taif said:
"It shocked me to read and hear about the audacity of the 'Betrayer-General' of all nations [a reference to the U.N. secretary-general], who by affiliation and loyalty is a combination of a Jew and a Christian and leads the people to hell. He called to stop the incursion of this disease called AIDS although two months earlier he had contradicted this call when, in stupidity and brazenness, he led the nations calling for permissiveness that causes this disease. He called for permitting adultery and spreading acts of abomination and homosexuality, which is a sexual perversion, and even invited this kind of people to a conference in order to call for permitting them marriage of the third kind."
A common sermon theme is jihad and why, said Sheikh Mohammed Saleh Al-Munajjid, "Muslims must educate their children to jihad":
"This is the greatest benefit of the situation: educating the children to Jihad and to hatred of the Jews, the Christians, and the infidels; educating the children to Jihad and to revival of the embers of Jihad in their souls. This is what is needed now."
The underlying theme of most of these sermons is that Israeli-Palestinian peace can never be accepted by the mosque. In a sermon at the Suleiman Bin Muqiran mosque in Al-Riyadh, Majed'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Firian said:
"The modern countries of Kufur [that is, Western countries] have realized that the [Palestinian] Authority that speaks today on behalf of the Palestinian cause has not waved the banner of Islam, and its goal is to establish a secular state. Therefore, they protect it and prohibit attacking it, as [this authority] is the one that will give them concessions when they pressure it. There is a deep-rooted solution to the conflict: intifada and jihad for the sake of Allah. Today, the Islamic nation already knows that the Holy Land will not be liberated by dallying at vacation sites or sitting around the negotiating table with infidels. The solution is to do what the Prophet did to the Jews when they violated the agreements. The solution regarding the Jews is as the Prophet Mohammed said: 'I have brought slaughter upon you.' Yes, the solution for these is not peace and harmony. Jihad, not peace, is the solution."
These are sermons in Saudi mosques. Imagine the Friday homilies in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and other Arab countries.


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