by Joe Carter
The Gospel Coalition
The Story: According to the Middle East Forum, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”
The Grand Mufti (the highest official of religious law in Muslim countries) made his statement in response to a question posed by a delegation from Kuwait that wanted to confirm Sharia’s position on churches. The Grand Mufti “stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it.”
The Background: As MEF notes, the Sheikh based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam declared on his deathbed that “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula,” which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region.
Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work (there are an estimated 1.2 million Christians in the country) but does not allow them to practice their faith openly.
Why It Matters: Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says that we shouldn’t be surprised that the Grand Mufti made the assertion—and we shouldn’t be surprised that the global community will ignore it:
Nor is it a surprise, considering his interpretation of Islam, that the religious police make it so difficult for Christians even to worship privately, in their homes. In a better world, the UN Human Rights Council would be denouncing these violations of freedom of religion, as would the whole Organization of Islamic Cooperation–given that Saudi Arabia is the only one of its 57 member countries that absolutely bars churches. In the world in which we actually live, denunciations of the Saudis for this are almost non-existent.
Raymond Ibrahim, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, draws a similar conclusion:
All of this is nothing short of a scandal—a reminder of just how deep the mainstream media, academia, and most politicians have their collective heads thrust in the sand.
Meanwhile, here is the latest piece of evidence of just how bad churches have it in the Muslim world, for those who care to know.