The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Apologists needed 

In spite of their blase comments, the Princes are really quite worried about the upcoming visit of Condoleezza Rice, particularly if she raises the "religion issue". They realize that some of the so-called arguments for religious persecution in Saudi Arabia are, to quote King Abdullah, "completely ludicrous". So they've decided to call on some of our best minds to think up good excuses. But, judging by what they've got so far, they aren't doing too well.

The puniest one comes from a Dr Ali Al-Tawati.
Every country has its own formula in dealing with the religious issues, said Dr Ali Al-Tawati, a political analyst in Jeddah. The United States is taking religious freedom as a reason to interfere in the country's internal affairs as it uses money for other reasons with several countries.
This of course is a fancy version of "It's none of their friggin' business!". Nice try, Ali, and it might work if Saudi Arabia kept its religion to itself, and didn't bother anyone else with it. However, as we see in many newspaper reports, for example Senate Will Probe Saudi Distribution Of Hate Materials, "its distribution of hate material to American mosques" is very much making it the USA's, and everyone else's business. So that one, in the jargon, "doesn't have legs".

Next up is one of our very own Imams.
Saudi Arabia is a Sunni country and it follow the Sunna any one having any other beliefs other than Sunna can practice it, but not in the public, said Sheikh Asem Al- Hakeem from Jaffar Al- Tayyar mosque in Jeddah.
Now the grammar is awful, but blame the "Saudi Gazette" translator for that. However the original is not much better. No surprise, therefore, that our Sheikh only got through the Imam Muhammad bin Saud University's very lax entrance test by an exemption. Although he was not able to drool onto the examination paper, he did manage to stay awake during the proceedings, unlike many others, and so could enter in a year when candidate quality was even lower than usual. The gist of his argument appears to be that while we don't allow Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion, we also ban our Shia Muslim brothers from doing their "Shia thing". (They like to slap their chests and make their heads bleed on occasion). In other words he is saying "Yes we are bigoted, but we are even more bigoted than you ever imagined". That's clever in its own way, I suppose, but it doesn't really serve the purpose. Back to your mosque, Sheikh Asem, and try to do better.

Oh, Dr Ali is back again.
Tawati pointed to double standard advanced by the United States that calls Israel the Jewish state.
Duh! Yes, Israel is a self-proclaimed religious state, Judaism is the official religion. But they also allow Muslims, Christians etc. to worship freely. Did you know, Dr Ali, that Jehovah's Witnesses are a fast-growing sect there? So it is possible both to have a state religion and to allow other religions. So your argument proves precisely the opposite of what it's supposed to. And you're a Doctor? Doctor of what? Doctor of Stoopid?

The Imam is back.
As a country that follows Islam, starting with its flag that has Allah s name on it, we are obeying the orders of Qur an and Sunna by stopping any one from practicing any religion other than Islam in public, said Al- Hakeem.
That's better, and it's a two-parter. The bit about "practicing...in public" cleverly implies that the Infidels can practice in private. Like a house church, or hiding in the catacombs, like they used to. But it's not so. See U.S. Ally Jails House-Church Leaders as one of numerous examples. So let's try the first bit. Because the flag has Allah's name on it, we can stop everyone else from practicing their religion. Well, that's a subtle argument, far too subtle for me, I'm afraid. In fact my reaction is, if you'll excuse the expression, WTF? Does that mean then, if you follow its logic:
- all Canadians should go around just wearing a Maple Leaf to protect their modesty
- all Japanese should wear one of those joke red noses
- all the Welsh should keep a pet Dragon
or am I somehow missing the point?

Oh wait, he's thought up another one. It's my favorite! It's the Pope and Vatican one!
But Hakeem added any person can practice his faith alone like what is happening in many places around the world such as the Vatican that does not have any mosques as Saudi Arabia has no churches.

My friend, that translator has really got it in for you. No matter, let's understand the argument. There are no mosques in the Vatican, so we cannot allow any churches in Saudi Arabia. This one is King Abdullah's favorite, because of its apparent symmetry.
Here is an aerial photo of the Vatican:

The yellow line roughly marks out its territory. It is 0.44 square kilometers in size. Suppose Pope Benedict says, "Let's have a mosque". Where is he going to build it? There's quite a big church in the middle, but that gets used all the time, is full of pilgrims and tourists, so we can't demolish that. There are some rather nice gardens at the back, and if we trash some buildings, and one or two religious statues and grottoes with Mary in them, we might be able to squeeze one in. But the best place is the square out at the front. All that real estate going to waste. Except that's where all the people go, when they have a big service, or announce a new Pope. So no room there either.

(As an aside there is, of course, a mosque in Rome. In fact, it's the biggest in Europe. (Let's guess which country paid for it, so the biggest mosque in Europe could be the one in Rome!). And it's a particularly nasty mosque.
The sermon of June 6, 2003, culminated with the following invocations, interspersed with the "Amen"s of the congregation:"O Allah, grant victory to the Islamic fighters in Palestine, Chechnya, and elsewhere in the world! O Allah, destroy the homes of the enemies of Islam! O Allah, help us to annihilate the enemies of Islam! O Allah, make firm everywhere the voice of the nation of Islam!"
So there's an example of the Europeans being tolerant again. Too tolerant, of course.)

Now let's look at an aerial map of Saudi Arabia.

This is an area of 2,149,690 square kilometers. Four million times bigger than the Vatican. Now there are lots of palm trees and sand dunes and camels and things, but there's still room for the occasional church or synagogue or Hindu temple in there.
So what do we think of the Pope and Vatican argument? The apparent symmetry turns out, on examination, to be slightly unbalanced. In fact, on a scale between "Brilliant" and "Crap", this argument scores somewhere around "Complete Shite".

The Imam is now getting quite desperate:
We are a Muslim country like what King Abdullah said and Islam is the only religion, he added.
The translator also thinks that the Imam is a complete tosser, and is really enjoying himself here. I don't think I need add any more, we shouldn't be unkind to dumb animals.

Talking about dumb, here's the Doctor again.
There is no religious freedom in many countries, Tawati said.
Well, that's certainly true of some countries. China. North Korea. Probably some God-forsaken place in Asia called something like Uzwuzistan. But you can guarantee that for all these countries, they will also qualify for the title of The Toilet At The End Of The Globe. And Doctor Dumb wants us to be just like them. Enough said.

So much for our best minds. I have my own suggestion.
We don't want to allow other religions in because our own perverted Wahabbi version of Islam is so nasty, mean and vicious, that if we did allow mainstream Islam or Shia Islam or other world religions in, people would soon flock to them in droves, thereby depriving our religious establishment of the income and position in society that they so demonstrably do not deserve.
It's honest. But I don't think they'll use it.

If you have your own arguments to support religious intolerance in Saudi Arabia, please feel free to use the "Comments". Even Unbelievers can contribute. We're not bigoted.

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