Report Cites 'Hate' Writings in U.S. Mosques
Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Sect Literature 'Widely' Available, Freedom House Says
By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2005; Page A18
The libraries of a number of American mosques feature Arabic-language writings published by the Saudi government or top clerics in the desert kingdom that virulently denounce Muslims from different traditions as well as Christians and Jews, and say devout Muslims should think of America as enemy territory, a new study said.
Freedom House, a conservative-leaning human rights organization based in New York, said in its report released last week that the books and publications in question say, among other things, that Muslims who employ a non-Muslim maid or cook "have to hate her for Allah's sake."
The publications espouse the hard-line fundamentalist views of the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia.
The Wahhabi publications "remain widely available in America, in some cases dominate mosque library shelves, and continue to be used to educate American Muslims," said the report by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. Freedom House was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941, and its current chairman is former CIA director R. James Woolsey.
The 57 publications discussed in the report "state it is a religious obligation to hate Christians and Jews, and warn against imitating, befriending or helping such 'infidels' in any way," the study said. "They instill contempt for America" as well as "a Nazi-like hatred for Jews."
Asked about the study -- which said the publications were found in mosques in Washington, D.C.; Virginia; New Jersey; New York; Illinois; Texas and California -- Islamic organizations distanced themselves from the vitriolic Wahhabi writings, and said most American Muslims do not subscribe to such views.
"If there's any kind of hate-filled rhetoric in a mosque in America, it should be removed," said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group. "These excerpts don't reflect the reality of the American Muslim community," he said, adding that the vast majority of U.S. Muslims do not speak Arabic.
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy here, who requested anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said some of the publications date back to the 1960s, and that some were Saudi fatwas, or religious edicts, that have been reversed since then.
The Saudi government has said for more than a year that it is removing offensive material from its schools, and that it is discouraging its Ministry of Islamic Affairs from continuing its work publicly disseminating often radical and incendiary anti-Western publications.
Islamic experts point out that Saudi Arabia and its leading government clerics, who embrace Wahhabism, were for many decades the main source of funds, training and printed materials for the growing American Muslim community. Some U.S. mosques agree with the unforgiving Saudi brand of Islam, but even those that do not often have textbooks or other publications reflecting the Saudis' Wahhabi line, they said.
Wahhabism took root in the Arabian desert in the 1740s, promoted by Mohammed ibn Abd Wahhab, who sought to purge what he saw as corrupting influences in Islam and return it to its original orthodoxy. It found a powerful ally in the House of Saud, which has ruled the Arabian peninsula for centuries.
In recent years, some Wahhabi imams became radical opponents of the royal family and promulgated the jihadist views of Osama bin Laden.
"Wahhabis invariably present Jews as falling permanently under God's curse, and often less than human," the report said. "Even apart from the issue of Israel and the Palestinians or any Arab-Israeli conflict, Wahhabi hatred for Jews as Jews is primordial."
A Saudi government publication found at the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue NW said Jews were extremely wily in promoting capitalism and communism as part of a strategy of world domination. The Jews "lured women to work in the factories," it said, and then, by getting them to wear makeup and revealing clothes, the Jews helped to "corrupt young men."
A fatwa issued by the Saudi government in 2000, and found in the Islamic Center of San Diego, said Muslims must maintain a "wall of resentment" against non-Muslims, who are all "enemies to Allah, his Prophet and believers."
A Saudi government-financed publication found at the al-Farouq Mosque in Houston said that celebrating birthdays and the "false holidays" of Americans is "forbidden and lewd."
Another Saudi pamphlet, called "Religious Edicts for the Immigrant Muslim" -- and found at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (or ADAMS Center) in Sterling -- said "it is forbidden for a Muslim to become a citizen of a country (such as the United States) governed by infidels."
But a leader of the ADAMS Center said that even if such a publication was found on its shelves, the mosque itself rejects such views. Mukit Hossain, a member of the mosque's board of trustees, said that despite the publication that Freedom House said it found there, the mosque fervently embraces citizenship, and in the last two years it enrolled 5,000 Muslims to vote.
"I emphatically say," Hossain added, that Wahhabism "is not part of Islam."
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