Church of the Nativity: Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld, Straw excommunicated

April 08, 2003

CONTENTS

1. Fatwa against Bush and Blair from visiting the "sacred holy land of Palestine"
2. By the Arafat-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at an official PA press conference
3. "Bush, Blair excommunicated: Church of the Nativity" (Islam Online, April 1, 2003)
4. "Palestinian ban for leaders of UK and America" (Independent, UK, April 7, 2003)
5. "Palestinian clerics' fatwa on Muslims aiding Iraq war" (Reuters, April 5, 2003)
6. "Mufti bans Bush, Blair from Holy Land" (Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2003)


FATWA AGAINST BUSH AND BLAIR FROM VISITING THE “SACRED HOLY LAND OF PALESTINE”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach four pieces, with summaries first:

(See note 3 for the way in which most of the western media continues to cover up for the Palestinian Authority.)

1. "Bush, Blair excommunicated: Church of the Nativity" (By Yasser El-Banna, Islam Online, April 1, 2003). The spokesman for the Orthodox Church in the Holy Land, archimandrite Attallah Hanna declared that George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, and Jack Straw have all been deprived from ever again visiting the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The Church of Nativity lies on the spot where it is believed Jesus was born, and is one of the world's most important churches.

2. "Palestinian ban for leaders of UK and America" (The Independent, UK, April 7, 2003). Going one step further than the Christian leaders in Bethlehem, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Palestinians' most senior Muslim cleric, has issued a fatwa barring George Bush and Tony Blair from visiting the "sacred holy land of Palestine". The Independent's respected deputy correspondent in Jerusalem, Eric Silver also writes "The mufti's fatwa was endorsed by the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that London and Washington are advocating a Palestinian state and are preparing to publish a 'road-map' that is designed to deliver independence by the end of 2005. The Palestinian Authority hosted the mufti's Ramallah press conference. A cabinet minister sat beside him. Palestinian newspapers carried the story on their front pages yesterday."

BY THE ARAFAT-APPOINTED GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM AT AN OFFICIAL PA PRESS CONFERENCE

3. [Tom Gross adds:] The report on this fatwa issued by the Arafat-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at his press conference at the Palestinian Authority Media Center in Ramallah, was carried by almost no other American or British newspaper. Why? Largely because Reuters and AP both omitted from their reports on the fatwa, the newsworthy aspect that Bush and Blair had been specifically targeted by Arafat's mufti. This was so even though Sunday's Al Quds (Jerusalem's leading Arab language newspaper) carried it as the lead of its report. I know of two other international journalists in the Middle East (two of the only ones who are not afraid to expose the truth about the Palestinian Authority) who wrote stories on the fatwa against Blair and Bush. In both cases their news editors did not run the stories, they said, because Reuters and AP were not running the news. This is one small example of how the world's two largest news agencies have played a crucial role in misrepresenting the true face of the Palestinian Authority for the past decade. I attach the Reuters piece "Palestinian Clerics' Fatwa on Muslims aiding Iraq War" (Sat April 5, 2003 08:04 AM ET) which makes no mention of the fatwa against Bush and Blair.

4. [TG continues] It is also amazing that other international correspondents in Jerusalem continue to prefer to listen to the propaganda of Palestinian Authority and Hamas press releases over the objective reports of moderate Palestinian journalists like Khaled Abu Toameh. I attach "Mufti bans Bush, Blair from Holy Land" (By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2003): "The Palestinian Authority's mufti, Sheikh Ikremah Sabri, issued a fatwa or religious decree Saturday banning US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair from setting foot on 'the sacred, holy land of Palestine.' This is the first time the mufti, who was appointed by Yasser Arafat, has issued such a ruling. The fatwa was announced at a press conference organized by the Palestine Media Center in al-Bireh. The Palestinian Authority mufti in Ramallah, Jamal Bawatneh, called in his Friday sermon for a jihad against the US and Britain. He told thousands of worshipers at the Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque in al-Bireh that it was the duty of all Muslims to participate in a holy war against the Americans and British."

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

BUSH, BLAIR EXCOMMUNICATED: CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY

Bush, Blair excommunicated: Church of the Nativity
By Yasser El-Banna
Islam Online
April 1, 2003

(Photo caption: The warmongers are barred from ever entering Christians' most sacred place)

Spokesman of the Orthodox Church in the Holy Lands, archimandrite Attallah Hanna declared that U.S. President George Bush, his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, British Premier Tony Blair, his Foreign Minister Jack Straw have all been deprived from visiting the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.

This decision was taken to express the refusal of the Palestinian Christians of the U.S.-led invasion on Iraq.

In a special interview with IslamOnline.net, Monday, March 31, Hanna described both Bush and Blair as excommunicates, as they have turned a deaf ear to several calls by the Orthodox Church and other churches before war erupted.

"This indicates that leaders of the invading states did not listen to the church, and hence, we deem them excommunicates and perverted."

"Bush and Blair behave in an antagonistically to the Semitic Church that calls for stopping the aggression and hostilities against Iraq," he added.

The Church of Nativity decided on Sunday, March 30, 2003, to excommunicate Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair and Straw due to their military attacks on Iraq.

The decision was declared Sunday by Father Banar Teyous, representative of the Orthodox Nativity Church during a march, organized by Orthodox institutions in front of the Church, to criticize the U.S. British invasion of Iraq.

Father Banar Teyous said that U.S.-British invaders are war criminals and children assassins and hence, the Church decided to excommunicate them.

THE WAR HAS NO RELIGIOUS COVER

The attacks undertaken by the alliance in Iraq is contrary to the instructions and message of Christianity, Father Attalah said.

"Such a war targets both Muslims and Christians and is in favor of the world Zionism that seeks to promote the notion of religious and civilizational struggle," he added.

"We condemn the aggression and call for an immediate stop thereof, as what is happening in Baghdad, capital of civilization, is extremely painful."

He expressed the sympathy of the Christian church with the Iraqi people, underlining that there is no moral or religious cover for the deeds of invaders in Iraq.

Hanna said that the excommunication decision is only a means to express disapproval and strong condemnation of what is currently going on in Iraq. It is also an expression of the Church's sympathy with the Iraqi people.

The Church also declared its desire to put an immediate end to the war on Iraq, he said.

GLOBAL CHRISTIAN CAMPAIGN

Hanna unveiled the efforts and contacts made by the Oriental Orthodox Church with several Christian churches the world over to organize a global Christian campaign in coordination with the Islamic institutions in order to stop the aggression that targets the Arab nation, the civilization and human values stipulated under the heavenly scriptures.

Archimandrite Hanna called upon the whole world, Christians and Muslims, to cooperate in order to defuse the Zionist and imperialist plans.

He said that there must be an Arab, Islamic and Christian cooperation with the objective of boosting historical links among followers of both doctrines in order to strengthen the values of dialogue and unity in the Arab world.

It is worth noting that the Church of Nativity is the first church on earth and has a special importance for different Christian sects, as it was established where Jesus Christ was born.

The Church consists of a huge religious compound that includes the church building as well as a number of monasteries and other churches that represent different Christian sects.

The Church is managed by three sects, namely, Orthodox, Earth and Franciscans.

 

PALESTINIAN BAN FOR LEADERS OF UK AND AMERICA

Palestinian ban for leaders of UK and America
By Eric Silver
The Independent (U.K.)
April 7, 2003

The Mufti of Jerusalem, the Palestinians' most senior Muslim cleric, has issued a fatwa barring George Bush and Tony Blair from visiting the "sacred holy land of Palestine".

Sheikh Ikrimah Sabri, who is appointed and paid by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, said Muslims were obliged to rise in the face of the Anglo-American "aggression". All Muslims, he insisted, were forbidden to assist the war effort.

He took care not to brand President Bush and the Prime Minister as "enemies of Islam" which is tantamount to a death sentence or to call for a jihad (holy war) against the US and Britain. But Arab journalists suggested that was how many devout Muslims would interpret the fatwa.

Sheikh Sabri's fatwa was issued a week after the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Bethlehem announced that the Allied leaders, both practising Christians, would never be allowed to enter the Church of the Nativity. The Greek Orthodox Church, the largest denomination among Palestinian Christians, controls most of the 6th-century basilica, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian over the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Bishop Panaritos told his congregation that the American and British leaders were "murderers" and therefore could not enter the house of God. Their place was in a prison, not a church, he said.

The two decrees reflect boiling hostility in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the war.

Muslims streamed out of the mosques after Friday prayers last week chanting: "Death to America! Death to Britain!" and "With blood and soul, we shall redeem Iraq". In Nablus, masked gunmen set fire to cut-out figures of Bush and Blair as well as a huge wooden effigy of an American F-18 warplane.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, urged the Iraqi people to emulate his own "martyrs" and launch suicide attacks against the Allied troops. "Oh, Iraq," his followers responded, "we are coming. We are ready to sacrifice millions."

Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas political leader, added: "If the crusaders insist on storming Baghdad, they will lose thousands of soldiers. Baghdad is a graveyard for invaders, whose destiny will be hell."

The mufti's fatwa was endorsed by the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that London and Washington are advocating a Palestinian state and are preparing to publish a "road-map" that is designed to deliver independence by the end of 2005.

The Palestinian Authority hosted the mufti's Ramallah press conference. A cabinet minister sat beside him. Palestinian newspapers carried the story on their front pages yesterday.

 

PALESTINIANS CLERICS’ FATWA ON MUSLIMS AIDING IRAQ WAR

Palestinian clerics' fatwa on Muslims aiding Iraq war
Reuters
April 5, 2003

The top Palestinian religious authority on Saturday banned Muslims from aiding the U.S.-led war in Iraq. "All Muslim scholars in Palestine declare a fatwa (edict) forbidding any Muslim to participate in that aggressive war, or even to lend the voracious invaders a hand," said the Al-Fatwa Supreme Council, an assembly of clerics from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Grand Mufti Ikrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Council, told Reuters: "We see that the continuous aggression against Iraq aims at stealing the oil of Iraq and not liberating the people of Iraq."

Palestinians are generally sympathetic to Iraq, seeing the 17-day-old war as parallel with their fight against Israel.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has bankrolled the families of suicide bombers and other Palestinian militants killed in a 30-month-old Palestinian uprising for statehood.

The Palestinian Authority wants a negotiated solution to the Iraqi crisis. But Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was shunned after publicly endorsing Saddam during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, has avoided such action this time.

 

MUFTI BANS BUSH, BLAIR FROM HOLY LAND

Mufti bans Bush, Blair from Holy Land
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
April 5, 2003

The Palestinian Authority's mufti, Sheikh Ikremah Sabri, issued a fatwa or religious decree Saturday banning US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair from setting foot on "the sacred, holy land of Palestine."

This is the first time the mufti, who was appointed by Yasser Arafat, has issued such a ruling. The fatwa was announced at a press conference organized by the Palestine Media Center in al-Bireh.

Palestinians said the decree is an indication of growing anti-American and anti-British sentiment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It comes at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinians continue to stage protests denouncing the US and Britain and burning effigies of Bush and Blair.

The unprecedented religious decree comes only days after Christian leaders in Bethlehem announced that the two leaders would never be allowed to visit the Church of the Nativity.

In his decree, Sabri urged Muslims to confront the US-British "aggression" on Iraq. But he stopped short of calling for a jihad against London and Washington.

Other preachers used Friday prayers to urge Muslims to wage a holy war on the US and Britain.

"Muslims are obliged to rise in the face of this aggression," said the fatwa, which was read by the mufti. "This war is aimed at taking control over the Iraqi people and their oil resources and reshaping the Arab region to serve America's interests."

The mufti, who is the highest religious authority in the Palestinian Authority, ridiculed Bush and Blair for declaring that the purpose of the war is to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein's regime.

"The ongoing aggression is aimed at stealing Iraq from its people and not liberating the people," he argued.

"Who appointed the Americans as guardians on Iraq to liberate its people?" he asked, adding that his decree also prohibits Muslims from providing any kind of assistance to the US and Britain in their war.

Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip demonstrated over the weekend in support of Saddam Hussein and against the US and Britain. Chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Britain," thousands of protesters took to the streets in several towns and villages after Friday noon prayers.

In Gaza City, thousands of worshipers streamed out of the Omari Mosque in one of the biggest shows of support for the Iraqi leader.

The Palestinians, chanting, "With blood, with soul, we redeem Iraq," marched towards the monument for the unknown soldier in the center of Gaza City, where a tent had been set up to express solidarity with Saddam.

Carrying two coffins one with the words UN Security Council on it and the other with Arab League the crowd chanted "Bush listen very well, the Islamic fighters will send you to hell." Top Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders who led the rally saluted the Iraqi army for its fierce resistance against the American and British soldiers.

Hamas's spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, reiterated his call to the Iraqi people to follow Hamas and launch suicide attacks against the American and British troops. The demonstrators replied by chanting, "Oh Iraq, we are coming, and we are prepared to sacrifice millions."

Hamas representative Mahmoud Zahhar told the crowd that "it was inevitable for the American and British invaders to arrive at the gates of Baghdad because that's where they are going to be buried."

"If the crusaders insist on storming Baghdad, they will lose thousands of soldiers. Baghdad is a graveyard for invaders, whose destiny will be hell," he added.

In Ramallah, Palestinian officials joined thousands of Palestinians who took to the streets following Friday prayers to protest against the war in Iraq. Waving Palestinian and Iraqi flags, the protesters shouted slogans denouncing Bush and Blair, as well as pro-Western Arab presidents and monarchs.

The PA mufti in Ramallah, Jamal Bawatneh, called in his Friday sermon for a jihad against the US and Britain. He told thousands of worshipers at the Jamal Abdel Nasser Mosque in al-Bireh that it was the duty of all Muslims to participate in a holy war against "the Americans and British infidels who are perpetrating massacres against Iraqi children and women on a daily basis."

In Nablus, masked gunmen belonging to the Hamas military wing spearheaded a large crowd of demonstrators carrying Iraqi flags and photographs of Saddam. Spokesmen at the rally emphasized the "special bond between Iraqi and Palestinian blood."

Thousands cheered as the masked gunmen set fire to a huge wooden emblem of an American F-18 warplane and effigies of Bush and Blair.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.