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SUMMARY — Known for its vast desert landscapes, Saudi Arabia also boasts beautiful coastlines along the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. This arid land is the birthplace of one of the fastest growing – and second largest – religions in the world: Islam. In place of a constitution, the nation abides by the laws of the Quran. The cities of Mecca and Medina are sacred destinations, drawing Muslims from around the world. The Hajj pilgrimage brings millions to Mecca every year! The nation’s Islamic heritage, located at the center of ancient trade routes, and Bedouin traditions help to form its rich cultural identity. About 16% of the world’s proven oil can be found here, adding to its great global significance.
Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst religious freedom and human rights records. Freedoms of speech, press, or worship are virtually nonexistent. King Abdullah (1995-2015) worked to modernize the nation through social and economic initiatives. Elections were first held in 2005, and in 2015 women were allowed to vote, with some winning seats on municipal councils. Salman bin Abdalaziz Al Saud became king in 2015 and named his son, Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince. Vowing to leave behind “extremist ideologies” for a “more moderate Islam,” the Crown Prince has worked to give women more freedom while purging political and business corruption. The nation is even opening its doors to tourism and cinemas – both unthinkable a few years ago. Even so, Saudi Arabia continues to invest billions of dollars exporting Wahhabi Islam, a fundamentalist sect that produces many extremists. Additionally, strict laws against male and female interactions have led many to secret lives of homosexuality, the penalty of which is imprisonment and death. As the country becomes more dependent on oil, the gap between rich and poor grows. This nation is also heavily involved in multiple proxy wars that are destabilizing the region (i.e., Yemen, Syria, and Libya).
Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam and one of the world’s most oppressive nations. Most Saudis are Wahhabi Sunnis, following a strict and literal interpretation of the Quran. People of other faiths are forbidden to practice openly, and most Christians are migrants. Strict religious laws make it extremely difficult for believers to practice their faith, and Saudis who follow Jesus face ostracism, discrimination, harassment, and even death. Recent changes in leadership and policy have led some to believe the country may become more open to Christianity. Though numbers are unreliable, the secret Church is growing, and believers are present in every city.
As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Saudi Arabia will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.
• Pray for the Lord Jesus to miraculously demolish the stronghold of Islam in this nation.
• Pray for massive Islamic missionary efforts to be thwarted.
• Pray for true religious freedom and the curbing of heinous human rights abuses.
Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted
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A sermon delivered by popular Saudi Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid clearly demonstrates why Western secular relativists and multiculturalists — who currently dominate media, academia, and politics — are incapable of understanding, much less responding to, the logic of Islamic intolerance.
During his sermon, al-Munajjid said that “some [Muslim] hypocrites” wonder why it is that “we [Muslims] don’t permit them [Western people] to build churches, even though they allow mosques to be built.”
The Saudi sheikh responded by saying that any Muslim who thinks this way is “ignorant” and wants to equate between right and wrong, between Islam and kufr [non-Islam], monotheism and shirk [polytheism], and gives to each side equal weight, and wants to compare this with that, and he asks: “Why don’t we build them churches like they build us mosques? So we allow them this in return for that?” Do you want another other than Allah to be worshiped? Do you equate between right and wrong? Are Zoroastrian fire temples, Jewish temples, Christian churches, monks’ monasteries, and Buddhist and Hindu temples, equal to you with the houses of Allah and mosques? So you compare this with that? And you equate this with that? Oh! Unbelievable, for he who equates between Islam and kufr[non-Islam], and Allah said: “Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (Koran 3:85). And Prophet Muhamad said: “By Him in whose hand is the life of Muhamad (By Allah) he who amongst the Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that which I have been sent, and dies in his state (of disbelief), he shall be of the residents of Hellfire.”
What’s interesting about the sheikh’s zealous diatribe is that, although “intolerant” from a Western perspective, it is, in fact, quite logically consistent and reveals the wide gap between Islamic rationalism and Western fantasy (despite how oxymoronic this dichotomy might sound).
If, as Munajjid points out, a Muslim truly believes that Islam is the only true religion, and that Muhammad is its prophet, why would he allow that which is false (and thus corrupt, cancerous, misleading, etc.) to exist alongside it? Such gestures of “tolerance” would be tantamount to a Muslim who “wants to equate between right and wrong,” as the sheikh correctly deplores.
Indeed, not only does Islam, like traditional Christianity, assert that all other religions are wrong, but under Islamic law, Hindus and Buddhists are so misguided that they must be warred against until they either accept the “truth,” that is, converting to Islam, or else being executed (Koran 9:5). As for the so-called “people of the book” — Jews and Christians — they may practice their religions, but only after being subdued (Koran 9:29) and barred from building or renovating churches and synagogues and a host of other debilitations that keep their (false) religious practices and symbols (Bibles, crosses, etc.) suppressed and out of sight.
From an Islamic paradigm — where Allah is the true god and Muhammad his final messenger — “intolerance” for other religions is logical and difficult to condemn.
The “altruistic” aspect of Islamic “intolerance” is especially important. If you truly believe that there is only one religion that leads to paradise and averts damnation, is it not altruistic to share it with humanity, rather than hypocritically maintaining that all religions lead to God and truth?
After blasting the concept of interfaith dialogue as beyond futile, since “what is false is false — even if a billion individuals agree to it; and truth is truth — even if only one who has submitted [a Muslim] holds on to it,” the late Osama bin Laden once wrote that “Battle, animosity, and hatred — directed from the Muslim to the infidel — is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them” (The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 42-43).
Note the altruistic justification: It is a “justice and kindness” to wage jihad on non-Muslims in the hopes that they convert to Islam. According to this logic, jihadis will always be as the “good guys” — meaning that terrorism, extortion, sex-jihad, etc., will continue to be rationalized away as ugly but necessary means to altruistic ends: the empowerment of, and eventual world conversion to, Islam.
All of this logic is alien to postmodern Western epistemology, which takes for granted that a) there are no objective “truths,” certainly not in the field of theology, and that b) religion’s ultimate purpose is to make this life as peaceful and pleasant as possible (hence why “interfaith dialogue” in the West is not about determining the truth — which doesn’t exist anyway — but finding and highlighting otherwise superficial commonalities between different religions so they can all peacefully coexist in the now).
The net result of all this? On the one hand, Muslims, who believe in truth — that is, in the teachings of Islam — will continue attacking the “false,” that is, everything and everyone un-Islamic. And no matter how violent, Islamic jihadis — terrorists and murderers — must always be seen as the “good guys,” supported by millions of Muslim sympathizers. On the other hand, Western secularists and multiculturalists, who believe in nothing and deem all cultures and religions equal, will continue to respect Islam and empower Muslims, convinced that terrorism is an un-Islamic aberration that has no support in the Muslim world and is destined to go away — that is, they will continue disbelieving their own eyes. Such is the offspring of that unholy union between Islamic logic and Western fallacy.
Saudi Arabia recently preached to the international community about the need to confront “intolerance, extremism and human rights violations.”
If this sounds surreal, consider the following excerpts from a July 26 report in the Saudi Gazette(emphasis added):
Saudi Arabia has reiterated its call on the international community to criminalize any actvilifying religious beliefs and symbols of faith as well as all kinds of discrimination based on religion.
Saudi Arabia wants Western cartoonists, comedians, and others—people who represent only their individual selves—to stop mocking the religious beliefs and symbols of Islam, even as the Arabian kingdom’s owninstitutionalized policy is to vilify and discriminate against the religious beliefs and symbols of all other faiths.
Not a single non-Muslim worship building is allowed there; the highest Islamic authority decreed that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” Whenever Christians are suspected of meeting in a house for worship—or as one Saudi official once complained, “plotting to celebrate Christmas”—they arearrested and punished.
Any cross or other non-Muslim symbol found is confiscated and destroyed. Anyone caught trying to smuggle Bibles or any other “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” can be executed.
In 2011, a Colombian soccer-player “was arrested by the Saudi moral police after customers in a Riyadh shopping mall expressed outrage over the sports player’s religious tattoos, which included the face of Jesus of Nazareth on his arm.” In 2010 a Romanian player kissed the tattoo of a cross he had on his arm after scoring a goal, causing public outrage.
And yet, Saudi Arabia has the unmitigated gall to ask the West—where Islam is freely practiced, where mosques and Korans proliferate, and where Muslims are granted full equality—to cease “discrimination based on religion.”
Continues the Saudi Gazette:
Addressing an international symposium on media coverage of religious symbols based on international law, which started in this French city on Saturday, a senior Saudi official said the Kingdom emphasized years ago that the international community must act urgently to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance, which has become widespread in all communities and peoples of the world.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, few countries exhibit as much “ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance” as does the Arabian kingdom. Along with the aforementioned discrimination and intolerance against all other religions, Saudi Arabia is notoriously clannish and racist.
Ten percent of the population is denied equal rights because of their race; black men are barred from holding many government positions; black women are often put on trial for “witchcraft”; castrated African slaves are sold on Facebook in the birthplace of Islam, and its princes are known to beat their black slaves to death. Human Rights Watch has described conditions for foreign workers in Saudi Arabia as resembling slavery.
Worse of all is if you’re black and Christian. After 35 Christian Ethiopians were arrested and abused in prison for almost a year, simply for holding a private house prayer, one of them said after being released: “They [Saudis] are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”
This is unsurprising considering that the Saudi education system makes it a point to indoctrinate Muslim children with hatred, teaching that “the Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.”
According to Saudi novelist Hani Naqshabandi, “Our religious institutions do not give us room to exercise free thought…. They [Saudi institutions] said that the Christian is an infidel, a denizen of hell, an enemy to Allah and Islam. So we said, ‘Allah’s curse on them.’”
Again, bear in mind that all this is official Saudi policy—not the “free expressions” of individuals, which the Saudis are condemning as creating “ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance” around the world.
The Saudi Gazette goes on to quote one Abdulmajeed Al-Omari, “a senior Saudi official.” Speaking at the recent international symposium in France which hosted representatives from 16 European nations, he said that Western “freedom of expression without limits or restrictions” are “abuses [that] bred intolerance, extremism and human rights violations…”
Again, it bears reemphasizing that in the West individuals are free to express themselves. And it’s just that—expression, not action (as in murder, terrorism, rape, enslavement, church bombings, or the slaughter of “apostates”).
As for Western governments, thanks to political correctness, not only do they discourage freedom of expression but honest, objective talk concerning Islam is suppressed (hence every Western leader maintains that ISIS “has nothing to do with Islam,” AKA, “the religion of peace”).
Meanwhile, it is precisely Islamic teachings that breed “intolerance, extremism and human rights violations,” and not just in Saudi Arabia but all throughout the Muslim world. And it is precisely these teachings that prompt Western peoples to criticize Islam, including through cartoons.
None of this is enough to embarrass the Saudis from their farce:
Al-Omari said the Saudi participation in the symposium falls in line with its efforts to support the principles of justice, humanity, promotion of values and the principles of tolerance in the world as well as to emphasize the importance of respecting religions and religious symbols.
Actually, because of Saudi Arabia’s absolute lack of “justice, humanity, promotion of values and the principles of tolerance,” even the U.S. State Department lists the home of Islam and Muhammad as one of eight “Countries of Particular Concern.”
Thus in ultra-hypocritical manner, Saudi Arabia asks the international community to stop exercising freedom of expression—even as it openly and unapologetically persecutes non-Muslims, discriminates against non-Saudis, and violates the most basic of human rights on a daily basis.
It still remains to determine which is more surreal, more unbelievable: that Saudi Arabia, which tops the charts of state-enforced religious intolerance and ethnic discrimination, is calling on the West “to confront ethnic, religious and cultural intolerance,” or that the West deigns to participate in such disgracefully hypocritical forums.
Saudi Arabia’s top Muslim cleric called on Tuesday for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula after legislators in the Gulf state of Kuwait moved to pass laws banning the construction of religious sites associated with Christianity.
Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who serves as the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, said the destruction of churches was absolutely necessary and is required by Islamic law, Arabic media reported.
Abdullah, who is considered to be the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom, also serves as the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.
Last month, Osama Al-Munawer, a Kuwaiti member of parliament, announced his plans to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country, according to the Arabian Businesses news site. Al-Munawer later clarified that the law would only apply to new churches, while old ones would be allowed to stay erect.
Christians arrested at a prayer meeting in Saudi Arabia is the continuing persecution of those that follow Christ Jesus worldwide, but especially in Muslim countries right across the middle east.
These countries and people are doing everything in their power to stop the advance of the message of the kingdom of God. And the salvation through our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. They understand completely that when people are set free, they are free indeed. They do everything in their carnal being to try and stamp out the Good News being preached.
We see the same in the Gospels where no matter how many miracles were done, or what Jesus spoke directly to the religious sects of the day, they sought to put him to death. The only reason they did this was to protect their own positions, kingdoms and power that they had over the people of that time.
Saudi Arabia’s continued persecution of those following in “the way” of Jesus of Nazareth is for the exact same reason. Anyone who does not follow their ideology, or preaches the “truth of all things”, do not worship their God—which Christians believe to be false become a danger to their kingdom and to their hold on power, therefore they will persecute them even unto death.
We are seeing the worst of this behavior coming out of the Middle East, but those who live in countries ruled by a thing called democracy, persecution of those walking in the steps of Christ Jesus are starting to rear its head in many forms.
A few examples include not allowing you to speak about your faith in your workplace, forbidden to bless people publicly, or told you do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work. All of which are the thin edge of the wedge to further persecution and possible imprisonment and in some cases physical death of the Lord’s followers in western governed countries.
Recently in New Zealand, we saw Saudi agents allegedly involved in covert operations whereas they forcibly repatriated three converts from the Muslim faith to Christianity back to Saudi Arabia.
This story should be making headlines in New Zealand, but it has been carefully controlled so that it does not interfere with the countries elections today, 20th September 2014.
It is a story I will follow up after the election and will continue to do so until someone has the courage and fortitude to seek the truth in these circumstances— a country like Saudi Arabia thinking it can freely persecute Saudi converts to Christianity within another countries sovereign borders such as New Zealand.
Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in these lands to ask the Lord to strengthen them for the trials they are to face and to intervene personally in all their lives, so their persecutors see we serve a living God who is coming back for His people and to bring in His Kingdom upon this earth.
VOP note: For those who argue that Christians in the West are not persecuted, we have been told by those in areas of severe persecution that we are seeing the beginning of what may lead to the same they are suffering today. They pray for us and tell us to stay alert. By no means are we diminishing the suffering of those under extreme persecution. Believers in the West do not suffer equally, nor should we imply that we do. But we will continue to chart the growing animosity towards Christians in all nations, including those in the West.
Rebels Claim Assad Used Chlorine Gas Again: It’s Time To Hold The World Accountable For These Atrocities
Syria’s President Assad has been in the news again, accused of using Chlorine gas on innocent civilians yet again. Reuters is reporting that these new accusations came after Assad announced his bid to run for president in June. Also after his announcement there were 2 incidents of bombings one in Homs and the other in Damascus. Killing at least 50 people, including children. These areas are government held areas at the moment. I say at the moment because they were once held by rebels. According to our sources this is a game that has been played by both sides. The Government forces pulled out of Homs at one time and allowed a rebel takeover that killed a number of Christians. President Assad has protected Christians in the past, so these areas when given over to rebels saw a huge massacre of Christians and innocent civilians.
I have to question the accusation of Assad using Chemical weapons at this point. He has been under pressure to give up his arsenal, and he is under the microscope of the UN and other western powers. It is the general opinion of those from there, that Assad did not do this. I find it hard to believe as he just announced he is running again for President. And we know that the rebels have had access to chemical weapons plants, and we know that they have been aided by western governments militarily and financially. Turkey has even proven to aid the traffic of rebels into Syria from foreign lands. Coming into Syria for ‘Jihad’.
Assad has had his share of blood on his hands. He is a dictator in a brutal part of the world. And he has ties to Iran. However isn’t it time the world holds the rebels accountable and those countries that support them? It has been said that Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are aiding these rebels. I say it’s time the media and officials demand accountability and stop the shedding of innocent blood. It’s time to say enough. Pray for the people of Syria, pray for our brothers and sisters there. It was just recently that the rebels brutally murdered a priest.
A priest that was helping both sides. A priest that stood for peace and freedom. And that doesn’t include the thousands of Christians who have been slaughtered unmercilessly. We can’t forget the memory of those who have died in this brutal cleansing. And don’t forget the pictures of crucifixion mocking Jesus that are surfacing also. So the rebels who are spotless claim Assad used Chemical weapons and we should believe them why? Again, it’s time to demand accountability from our Government and other Western and Middle eastern governments.
We believe this is something to keep your eye on. Be aware, it may ultimately affect you and may be a means to further endanger Christians. Countries involved are known to persecute Christians.
The common thread that binds the entire document together is the OIC’s repeated insistence that the main culprit responsible for “the institutionalization of Islamophobia” in Western countries is freedom of speech.
“The Istanbul Process started with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton…. We need to build on it.” — OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Isanoglu
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, an influential bloc of 57 Muslim countries, has released the latest edition of its annual “Islamophobia” report.
The “Sixth OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia: October 2012-September 2013” is a 94-page document purporting to “offer a comprehensive picture of Islamophobia, as it exists mainly in contemporary Western societies.”
But the primary objective of the OIC—headquartered in Saudi Arabia and funded by dozens of Muslim countries that systematically persecute Christians and Jews—has long been to pressure Western countries into passing laws that would ban “negative stereotyping of Islam.”
In this context, the OIC’s annual Islamophobia report—an integral part of a sustained effort to prove the existence of a “culture of intolerance of Islam and Muslims” in the West—is in essence a lobbying tool to pressure Western governments to outlaw all forms of “Islamophobia,” a nebulous concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s.
Continue reading HERE
Ethiopian migrants pushed to the edge?
This attack comes following an operation by Saudi officials to expel all illegal immigrants from the oil rich nation. Since the operation began early in November, there are reports that about 3 Ethiopian nationals have been killed and many others gravely abused. Ethiopians across the world have held protests in the past two weeks, rebuking the Saudi government’s clamp down. The Ethiopian government is reportedly in the process of repatriating over 23,000 of its citizens who are in Saudi Arabia illegally.
According to the report of the incident, the suspected Ethiopian attackers confronted the Saudi Arabian man, who was driving around Casablanca, Al Ha-da area, knocking him unconscious before carving a cross on his chest with a metal object. The suspects fled the scene before the police arrived, but the authorities are reported to have been able to apprehend a number of suspects of Ethiopian origin in the area with the aid of locals.
Following reports of this attack, there have been speculations that the Ethiopian nationals behind the attack may be retaliating the perceived wrong wrought on their kinsmen by Saudi officials during the ongoing mass repatriation exercise. But neither Saudi Arabia nor Ethiopia have so far issued a statement to validate or dispute this claim.
This is not the first incident that highlights an underground religious conflict in the Muslim kingdom. Although no public churches operate in Saudi Arabia, Christians are reported to exist in the country—holding their meetings in individual houses and other locations. Several people reported to be Christians have been arrested by Saudi Arabia’s “religious police”, the Mutaween (or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) in the past for practicing their faith in public or attempting to proselytize to Muslims. Last year, about 36 Christians who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia were released after much criticism from governments and human right groups.
Pundits say Saudi official are dedicated to ensuring the kingdom retains its characteristic Islamic roots. Last year, Fox News quoted the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh saying it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.” But Saudi officials insist Christians are only arrested when they attempt to convert Muslims to their faith–by practicing in public. In Saudi Arabia, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death.
Ethiopia is a traditionally orthodox christian state, the faith is reported to have been practiced in the state at least since the 4th century. Naturally, the thousands of Ethiopian migrants who are reported to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia yearly attempt to practice their religion— but with great difficulty. While Christians face persecution in Saudi Arabia, Muslims also face persecution in Ethiopia. In the past few years, the Ethiopian government is reported to have increased surveillance of its relatively small Muslim population, with several clashes and arrests recorded.
In a Wikileaks report, Sheikh Elias Redman, a notable figure in the Ethiopian Muslim community noted that fundamentalist Wahhabist influence is spreading among Ethiopian Muslims, threatening the existence of Ethiopia’s Sufi version of Islam which promotes religious tolerance and co-existence with Christians. The Sheikh also revealed that these attempts are being supported by Saudi Arabia, allegedly to influence Ethiopia’s moderate Muslims with the Kingdom’s more traditional version of the religion.
Photo: Migrants wait to be transported to deportation centres in Riyadh. [AFP/Fayez Nureldine]