The real apartheid: Saudi teacher to be flogged for 15 weeks for praising Jews

November 17, 2005

[This is the second of two dispatches today primarily dealing with the way in which Muslim extremism is increasing across the globe]



1. Saudi teacher who praised Jews to be flogged in public for 15 weeks
2. No word from the AUT in support of condemned Saudi educator
3. Tainted Saudi teaching material used in American schools
4. Al-Qaeda threatens the English Queen; new UK Islamic group launched
5. India steps up work on security fence to keep out terrorists
6. France extends its state of emergency for three months
7. 200,000 Israelis mark 10 year anniversary of Rabin’s death
8. … But only 1,500 Palestinians mark first anniversary of Arafat
9. Singapore National Library removes Arafat exhibit
10. Calls for moderate Muslims to raise their voices


11. “Saudi jailed for discussing the Bible” (Reuters, Nov. 14, 2005)
12. “Al-Qaeda calls Queen an ‘enemy of Islam’” (London Sunday Times, Nov. 13, 2005)
13. “India fences off Bangladesh to keep out Muslim terror” (London Sunday Times, Nov. 13, 2005)
14. “France’s state of emergency to be extended” (AP, Nov. 15, 2005)
15. “200,000 Israelis mark 10 years since Rabin’s death” (Reuters, Nov. 12, 2005)
16. “Address the ‘Jewish question’ without resorting to propaganda” (Daily Star Lebanon, Nov. 8, 2005)
17. “Five questions non-Muslims would like answered” (By Dennis Prager, Los Angeles Times, Nov. 13, 2005)

[Note by Tom Gross]


Mohammad al-Harbi, a Saudi high school teacher who discussed the Bible and praised the Jewish role in creating religion, is to receive 750 lashes in public and 40 months in prison for “mocking religion.” Al-Harbi is due to appeal the verdict. (Although I rarely make policy recommendations on this list, might I suggest those U.S. and British government figures on this list speak to the Saudi authorities on Al-Harbi’s behalf.)

The lashes are to be given in the public market in the town of Al-Bikeriya in Al-Qassim. He will receive 50 lashes each week for 15 weeks.

Al-Harbi was the school activities organizer at the Al-Fowailiq High School in the town of Ein Al-Juwa in Al-Qassim. Following a terrorist attack at the Al-Hamra Compound in Riyadh in 2003, Al-Harbi used his position as an educator to enlighten his students and warn them of terrorism and its consequences. He went to great lengths by talking to students, hanging anti-terrorism signs around the school and speaking out against terrorism.

Al-Harbi’s actions upset a number of Islamic studies teachers at the school. Al-Harbi told Arab News that “The Ministry of Education has recently ordered all schools to lecture students on the dangers of extremism and terrorism in general, but I was a step ahead of their decision.”

This decision comes only days after the U.S. State Department criticized Saudi Arabia, as religious freedoms “are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam.”

(For more details, please see the Reuters report below, at the start of the “full articles” section.)


So far there has been no condemnation of the Saudi authorities from the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) who continue to spend much of their time considering how to get their proposed boycott of Israeli teachers implemented.

It is also ironic that presently two Israelis, one Jewish and one Arab, are touring the UK to urge an academic boycott of Israeli universities together with Dr Nur Masalha, a Palestinian Muslim, now a British citizen.

The Israeli Jew, Ilan Pappe, is a professor at Haifa University, whilst the Israeli Arab, Omar Barghouti, completed his doctorate at Tel Aviv University, and the British Muslim studied at the Hebrew University. They are living evidence of the lie that Arabs are denied education in “apartheid Israel,” yet they have abused the education Israel gave them to further demonize the Jewish state in countries like Britain where there has been a rise in anti-Semitism recently.


A special investigation by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) has discovered that Saudi-backed teaching materials, replete with bias and distortions about Israel, America and Islam, are penetrating classrooms across the U.S.

For example, the “Arab World Studies Notebook,” which is provided to American schools to correct misconceptions about Islam and the Arab world, contains no mention of the existence of Israel in its country-by-country section, and refers only to Palestine. It also suggests that the Koran “synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations,” meaning those ascribed to by Christians and Jews.

This notebook also suggests that Jews have “undue influence on U.S. foreign policy.” The two organizations behind the book are the Arab World & Islamic Resources and the Middle East Policy Council, both of which receive funding from Saudi Arabia.

A recent New York Sun editorial commented that “the House of Saud gets its hands on American public school textbooks. The results aren’t pretty.”


In a video message justifying the July London transport bombings, Al-Qaeda has named Queen Elizabeth as “one of the severest enemies of Islam”.

The 27-minute video, partly broadcast on Al-Jazeera, denounces the Queen as an enemy of Muslims. Appearing in the video is Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden along with the ringleader of the London bombings Mohammad Sidique Khan.

In Britain the video has been posted on the website Tajdeed, run by the London-based Saudi extremist Muhammad al-Massari. (Further details in the article below.)


Anjam Choudry a lawyer and the former leader of al Muhahjiroun, an extremist organization which disbanded itself in October 2004, told the Saudi-owned paper Asharq al Awsat yesterday that he had invited the group’s 700 ex-members to unite under the banner of “Ahl al Sunnah and al Jamaa” (the community following the teachings of the Prophet).

Choudry also expected several students of Omar Bakri Mohammad, the spiritual guide of the banned al Ghurabaa group who currently lives in Beirut, to attend the launch. The new group aims to unite British Muslims under one roof, away from more secular organizations.


The third article below reports that India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500 mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh. Explosions in Bangladesh this year have killed 30 people.

So far there has been no outcry about the Indian “apartheid wall” whilst no international activists have arrived to protest the Indian security fence.

The fence will be built in response to 30 deaths whilst Israel, a much smaller and more vulnerable country, is building its security fence in response to over a thousand deaths.

Where is the resolution from the General Assembly of the United Nations in which it requires the International Court of Justice to “urgently render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by India…”?


In response to the riots across France, the government has approved a bill to extend the country’s state of emergency for another three months.

Last night, French police said that only 163 vehicles were burned, down from 215 the previous night. This drop is seen as indicating an “almost normal situation everywhere” in France. A total of 8,973 vehicles have been set fire to since the violence began.

The French parliament gave final approval to extending the state of emergency for three months on Wednesday.

For an interesting article on the way the American media have (mis)covered the French riots, please see the dispatch “Elections imminent as Shimon Peres ousted (& items on French riots, NY Times, Islam)” (November 10, 2005).


Around 200,000 Israelis gathered in Rabin square last Saturday night to mark the 10-year anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder. Among the participants was former U.S. President Bill Clinton. This was the biggest peace rally in Israel since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.


According to Reuters, the Rabin rally was “a huge contrast to the modest memorials Palestinians held in Gaza and the West Bank this week to mark the first anniversary of the death of Arafat.”

1,500 people attended the Arafat memorial ceremony on Saturday night in Ramallah, in the Mukata, marking the first anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.

To see some of my previous articles on Arafat please refer to And for a topical photographic reminder of the continuing shadow that Arafat casts over efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace exactly one year after his death see


Following a number of complaints, the Singapore National Library has removed an image of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Kwa Chong Guan, a consultant to the government-backed terrorism exhibition at the National Library, explained in a letter published in The Straits Times newspaper that Arafat’s picture was used in a montage of 24 faces to “attract visitors to the exhibits.”

Guan went on to say that “We received feedback from visitors that if one looked at the montage without looking at the exhibition in totality, the faces displayed were open to many different interpretations.”


The final two articles on this dispatch both contain calls for moderate Muslims to make themselves heard.

Walid Salem, a Palestinian, questions whether Islamist political propaganda spouted by Iranian President Mohammed Ahamdinejad is useful for the Palestinian cause. (To read more on the international reaction to the calls by Ahmadinejad for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” please see the dispatch “Israel receives surprisingly strong international support over Ahmadinejad comments” (November 1, 2005).)

Salem also urges moderate Muslims to “be vociferous against blind strategies, and instead should call for a real and intensive discussion about the Jewish question and about Israel’s position in the Middle East.”

Dennis Prager in the Los Angeles Times (article below) asks five questions of law-abiding Muslims. The second of his questions is “Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?” The fifth and final question asks “Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?”

I attach seven articles below.

-- Tom Gross



Saudi jailed for discussing the Bible
November 14, 2005

A court sentenced a teacher to 40 months in prison and 750 lashes for “mocking religion” after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, a Saudi newspaper reported yesterday.

Al-Madina newspaper said secondary-school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi, who will be flogged in public, was taken to court by his colleagues and students.

He was charged with promoting a “dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right, discussing the Gospel and preventing students from leaving class to wash for prayer,” the newspaper said.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, strictly upholds the austere Wahhabi school of Islam and bases its constitution on the Koran and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. Public practice of any other religion is banned.

A U.S. State Department report criticized Saudi Arabia last week, saying religious freedoms “are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam.” The newspaper said Mr. al-Harbi will appeal the verdict.

A similar case was cited in the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2004. “During the period covered by this report, a schoolteacher was tried for apostasy, and eventually convicted in March of blasphemy; the person was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 300 lashes. The trial received substantial press coverage,” the report said.

A 2003 report by the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, the world’s only government-sanctioned entity to investigate and report religious-freedom violations, named Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest violator of religious liberties.

The commission took the country to task for “offensive and discriminatory language” disparaging Jews, Christians and non-Wahhabi Muslims found in government-sponsored school textbooks, in Friday sermons preached in prominent mosques, and in state-controlled Saudi newspapers.

For example, in 2003, Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah reacted to the killing of six Westerners by terrorists in Yemen by saying he thought Zionism was behind them.

In Saudi Arabia, the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal; only Muslims can be Saudi citizens; one of the Saudi king’s titles is “custodian of the two holy mosques”; proselytizing for any religion other than Sunni Islam is barred; and Mecca, Islam’s holy city, is forbidden to all non-Muslims.

For years, Saudi Arabia also imposed restrictions, or persuaded the U.S. government to impose restrictions, on American troops defending the country during and after then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait.

For example, U.S. postal and customs officials have barred mailing materials “contrary to the Islamic faith,” including Bibles. The U.S. military also has required female service members to wear a long, black robe called an abaya when traveling off base in Saudi Arabia. Both regulations were rescinded or clarified after public outcry based on reporting in the U.S. media.



Al-Qaeda calls Queen an ‘enemy of Islam’
By Abul Taher
The Sunday Times (of London)
November 13, 2005,,2087-1869849,00.html

Al-Qaeda has threatened the Queen by naming her as “one of the severest enemies of Islam” in a video message to justify the July bombings in London.

The warning has been passed by MI5 to the Queen’s protection team after it obtained the unexpurgated version of a video issued by Al-Qaeda after the 7/7 attacks. Parts of it were broadcast on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite channel.

In the video, Ayman al- Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden, targets the Queen as ultimately responsible for Britain’s “crusader laws” and denounces her as an enemy of Muslims.

A senior Whitehall official said: “MI5 is aware that there are some pieces of that video that have not been aired. They are aware of the bit of al- Zawahiri talking about the Queen and they have notified the relevant authorities.”

The Sunday Times has obtained the full 27-minute video, which is circulating on secure jihadist websites in the Middle East used to recruit and inflame prospective terrorists. In Britain it has been posted by Muhammad al-Massari, the London-based Saudi extremist, on his website Tajdeed.

It also contains inflammatory material from Mohammad Sidique Khan, ringleader of the London bombings which killed 52 commuters. He is urging Muslims to take part in jihad and seek martyrdom.

Khan, 30, incites British Muslims to ignore the moderate Islamic leaders who want integration with British society. “Our so-called scholars of today,” he said, “are content with their Toyotas and semi- detached houses” in their desire for integration. The message is believed to be the first of its kind in which a British suicide bomber calls on fellow UK Muslims to follow his example.

The attack by al-Zawahiri prompted intelligence officers to alert Buckingham Palace that the Queen had become a specific target of Al-Qaeda. Her security had already been upgraded after September 11, 2001.

In the video al-Zawahiri not only labels the Queen as one of Islam’s “severest enemies” but also sends a warning shot to British Islamic leaders who “work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England”.

He said those who followed her were saying: “We are British citizens, subject to Britain’s crusader laws, and we are proud of our submission . . . to Elizabeth, head of the Church of England.”

In a possible reference to the role of the Muslim Council of Britain, which had issued instructions to mosques to inform on potential terrorists, he criticised “those who issue fatwas, according to the school of thought of the head of the Church of England”.

In the previously unseen footage, Khan, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, said: “It is very clear, brothers and sisters, that the path of jihad and the desire for martyrdom is embedded in the holy prophet and his beloved companions.

“By preparing ourselves for this kind of work, we are guaranteeing ourselves for paradise and gaining the pleasure of Allah.

“And by turning our back on this work, we are guaranteeing ourselves humiliation and the anger of Allah. Jihad is an obligation on every single one of us, men and women.”

Khan’s message was condemned by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the Muslim Council’s secretary-general, as a “perverse interpretation of Islam”.

“The victims of Sidique Khan were innocent people . . . It’s clearly inciteful. It’s trying to incite people to commit murder,” he said.



India fences off Bangladesh to keep out Muslim terror
By Dean Nelson, Dhaka
The Sunday Times (of London)
November 13, 2005,,2089-1869575,00.html

India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh amid growing fears that its Muslim neighbour could become “a new Afghanistan”. Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government’s failure to crack down on them.

One group said to have links with the government claimed responsibility for 500 synchronised explosions in 63 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts in August.

India’s cabinet has decided to speed up work on the 8ft security fence, which is intended to keep out terrorists and arms smugglers. The fence, which cuts a swathe through some of India’s densest rainforests, will be finished by the end of next year and patrolled by a border security force. Key stretches are being electrified.

The initiative follows attacks by two groups related to Al-Qaeda — Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harakat-ul- Jihad-ul-Islami (Bangladesh), which was among 15 organisations that were banned in Britain last month.

Grenade and bomb explosions across Bangladesh have killed 30 and injured hundreds in the past year. Two Awami League opposition leaders were among those killed and the British high commissioner was targeted in a grenade attack.

It was the August 17 blasts that caused the most alarm. Although only two people died, they showed a new level of sophistication. There were 28 bombs in Dhaka alone and the targets included the prime minister’s office, the police headquarters and the supreme court.

Leaflets found at the bomb sites declared: “It is time to implement Islamic law in Bangladesh” and “Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries”.

Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh is led by “Bangla Bhai”, a former vigilante who once fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. Opposition leaders and diplomats believe the government has failed to act against Bangla Bhai and other terrorists because they have connections with the governing coalition.

There are two Islamic fundamentalist parties in the coalition, which is led by Begum Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist party: the Jamaat Islami (JI), which has 10% of the vote, and the Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ).

The JI is increasingly respected by ordinary voters for its social welfare work, lack of corruption and the operations of its bank, the most profitable in Bangladesh. “You don’t have to pay a bribe to get a loan from them,” said a western observer.

Senior members of the IOJ have declared themselves to be “for the Taliban and for Osama (Bin Laden)”. “There’s a reluctance to acknowledge there’s a problem here,” said one diplomat, who described the IOJ as “real wackos”. He added: “These are the ones going after an anti-American armageddon. Some of the people charged with the bombings have had linkages with the main party.”

Sabir Hossain Chowdhury, an opposition leader who was detained for three months after complaining about Islamic militants linked to the government, said Bangladesh was being subjected to a campaign of intimidation and the government was guilty of complicity. “Bangladesh is probably the only government in the world that includes a group which is committed to jihad and sharia,” he said.

The country was undergoing creeping “Islamicisation”, he added. “If you look at state TV, more presenters are wearing beards. On the radio they’re reciting more and more from the Koran. The most notable example is at Dhaka airport where signs are now in Arabic but no one speaks it.”

All the partners in the government coalition deny condoning political oppression or terrorism or failing to act. They point out that they have banned two of the main terrorist groups and made high-profile arrests.

Western diplomats are caught between fear and denial. “Our impression is that the government here has the ability to crush these guys if they want to,” said one. “All the ingredients for trouble are here.”



France’s State of Emergency to Be Extended
The Associated Press
November 15, 2005

France’s Cabinet on Monday approved a bill to extend the country’s state of emergency for three months to crack down on a wave of arson attacks and riots, the government said.

The government declared a 12-day state of emergency Wednesday, empowering regions to impose curfews and conduct house searches. The measures were set to expire next Sunday if not extended. The bill to prolong the state of emergency must now go before parliament.

“It’s a measure of protection and precaution,” President Jacques Chirac said at a Cabinet meeting, quoted by government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope. “It’s a strictly temporary measure that will only be used where it is strictly necessary.”

Speaking earlier on Europe-1 radio, Cope said the bill would leave open the possibility of ending the state of emergency if order is restored.

“I think that given all that has just happened, it is important for regional officials to have the means to act during a period that is limited, but long enough to ensure the serious attacks on public order that we have seen in the past days don’t happen again, ” he said.



200,000 Israelis mark 10 years since Rabin’s death
By Tali Caspi
November 12, 2005

About 200,000 Israelis and foreign dignitaries gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Israel’s biggest peace rally since its Gaza pullout.

Holding signs with slogans such as “The path to peace will never be killed,” the crowd stood for a moment’s silence and sang memorial songs in Rabin square, where Rabin was killed in 1995 and which has since seen numerous peace rallies.

Rabin was shot dead by an ultranationalist Israeli Jew who opposed his 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinians, for which he shared a Nobel Peace Prize with late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton joined dozens of foreign dignitaries at the rally. Clinton, who helped broker the 1993 peace accord, said he had loved Rabin and urged Israelis see his work through.

“If he were here, he would say, ‘... If you really think I lived a good life, if you think I made a noble sacrifice in death, then for goodness sakes take up my work and see it through to the end,”’ Clinton said.

The demonstration, which organizers said was about 200,000-strong, was the biggest peace rally in Israel since its Gaza pullout on September 12.

Violence has worsened since Rabin’s death, especially during the past five years of a Palestinian uprising in which more than 3,400 Palestinians and almost 1,000 Israelis have been killed.

In recent violence, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man near the Gaza border fence with Israel, Palestinian medics said. The Israeli army said troops fired at three men trying to plant an explosive device in the area, hitting two.

One of the men who was wounded in the incident told Palestinian medics he and his friends were unarmed and planned to sneak across the border to look for work.


The Tel Aviv rally was a huge contrast to the modest memorials Palestinians held in Gaza and the West Bank this week to mark the first anniversary of the death of Arafat.

Israel and the United States accused Arafat of fomenting violence, a charge he had always denied.

The demonstration was also a major show of strength by Israel’s left, which wants peace talks to resume and opposes Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plans to strengthen Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

But Tamir Abraham, 59, said Sharon had “taken a step in Rabin’s legacy” by carrying out his pullout plan, saying: “Peace is a process and the process has begun with us leaving Gaza.”

Also attending the memorial was new Israeli Labor Party chief Amir Peretz, who ousted Shimon Peres in a Thursday poll.



Address the ‘Jewish question’ without resorting to propaganda
By Walid Salem
The Daily Star Lebanon
November 8, 2005

Personally, as a Palestinian who has worked in positions of responsibility for the last 31 years, including five years spent as a political prisoner, it is very difficult for me to continue as if nothing has happened when hearing a president of an Islamic state returning to the slogans of the 1960s and 1970s calling for the elimination of Israel. At that time, these were the slogans of the Arab nationalist movements (and also the Palestinian armed Marxist organizations). Today, these slogans have become Islamist political propaganda resurrected by the Iranians and different political movements that use Islam as their announced ideology.

The dangers of such slogans lie not only in their role in incitement, but also in the fact that they express a lack of strategic vision about the following issue, which also relates to post-disengagement issues in Palestine, namely: How do we deal with the “Jewish question” in the Israeli-Palestinian and also in the Israeli-Arab and Islamic contexts?

The first point is the Jewish question itself: Do we in the Middle East ask ourselves about this question? With the exception of a book written a few years ago by the Lebanese journalist Joseph Samaha, I have not seen other Arabic writings that recognize the Jewish question as not only a European question, but also as an Arabic-Islamic one.

The second point is built on the first: if the Jewish question is recognized, then its phenomena should be discussed. In this regard very frank questions need to be asked: Were the rights of the Jews throughout the ages guaranteed in Arabic and Islamic countries? If the answer to this question is yes, then why did the Jews of these countries emigrate to Israel? Was it only Zionist propaganda? If it was only Zionist propaganda that led to their emigration, then why does a large portion of those who came to Israel from the Arabic and Islamic countries adopt right-wing positions toward the Palestinians and Arabs? Moreover, what have Arabs and Islamic countries done in order to maintain good relations with those Jews once they migrated to Israel? These questions need frank answers and if we continue justifying oversights, the results will only be further deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Middle Eastern relations.

My third point centers on the strategy toward Israel. Do Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others of his ilk think that their propaganda helps Palestinians? Do they, on the other hand, help Israel integrate into the Middle East? Or does their attitude just help to increase those trends that call for Israel to be part of the West and to disconnect itself from Eastern culture and ties - except those ties of hegemony and dominance?

Do such statements help bring peace to the Middle East or more hatred and violence and the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Does Ahmadinejad hope to use these weapons to eliminate Israel? Moreover, does he realize that an Israeli response might bring about the elimination of Iran and probably other Middle Eastern countries? Why are we giving momentum to militarization and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, instead of peace? What kind of strategies are these? What does this say about our leaders?

The fourth point regards our roles in resolving the Jewish question. Of course the greater part of this problem was created in Europe, but as Israel was established in the Middle East, it falls upon us to answer the question: Will we accept the challenge of integrating Israel into the area? Or do we want to create new problems just because we do not bear the responsibility of creating the original problem? Even if the creation of Israel was not our direct responsibility, it is still our overall humanitarian responsibility to find a common solution to the Jewish question rather than to react to the suffering emanating from the establishment of Israel by causing anguish for the Jewish people. These are issues that Ahmadinejad did not think of because his very blind strategy can’t see the humanity of the opposing side.

The fifth point ponders whether these actions reflect Islam. Is this the tolerant Islam that all average citizens know, the Islam that recognizes the “other”? Is this the Islam that promotes equal rights for all people whatever their religion, color, sex, etc? These blind ideologies have nothing to do with Islam. They only create the opposite of what Islam stands for: they create hatred out of religious differences, thereby generating religious wars.

On all of the above points, moderate Muslims are called upon to raise their voices. Moderate Muslims must be vociferous against blind strategies, and instead should call for a real and intensive discussion about the Jewish question and about Israel’s position in the Middle East. Without such fruitful discussion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved.

(Walid Salem is the director of the East Jerusalem office of Panorama, the Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development. He is also the author of books and articles on democracy, citizenship, youth rights, civil society development, Israeli-Palestinian peace-building and the right of return. Together with Paul Scham and Benjamin Pogrund, he is author of “Shared Histories: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue,” Left Coast Press, 2005. The Daily Star publishes this commentary in collaboration with the Common Ground News Service. This article first appeared at MidEastWeb for Coexistence [])



Five questions non-Muslims would like answered
By Dennis Prager
The Los Angeles Times
November 13, 2005

The rioting in France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam’s sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.

Here are five of them:

(1) Why are you so quiet?

Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week’s protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country’s moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?

If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.

(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?

According to Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy, of the world’s 47 Muslim countries, only Mali is free. Sixty percent are not free, and 38% are partly free. Muslim-majority states account for a majority of the world’s “not free” states. And of the 10 “worst of the worst,” seven are Islamic states. Why is this?

(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?

Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims – in the name of Islam – murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia. While reciting Muslim prayers, Islamic terrorists take foreigners working to make Iraq free and slaughter them. Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in “honor killings.” And the Muslim government in Iran has publicly called for the extermination of Israel.

(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?

No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan’s Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians.

Instead of confronting these problems, too many of you deny them. Muslims call my radio show to tell me that even speaking of Muslim or Islamic terrorists is wrong. After all, they argue, Timothy McVeigh is never labeled a “Christian terrorist.” As if McVeigh committed his terror as a churchgoing Christian and in the name of Christ, and as if there were Christian-based terror groups around the world.

As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, “Yes, we have real problems in Islam.” Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better – for you and for the world – than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.

We await your response.

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