Al-Liwaa' Al-Islami, October 21, 1999

[Al Liwaa is a daily Arabic newspaper published in Beirut, Lebanon]

The United States made beyond doubt a strange effort to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, especially countries of the third world and the Islamic world in particular when it issued last month its report on religious freedom in the world in the frame of the religious freedom law. This law was issued by the American Congress in 1988 after a campaign lead by the Jew Frank Wolf [note: Rep. Wolf is not Jewish] and the Zionist-Christian Arlen Specter.

The report spoke of the state of religion in 119 countries and focused on about thirty countries around the world accusing them openly of some sort of religious persecution against minorities. Most of these were Islamic countries. Besides China came Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The report did not only raise the issue of the Copts in Egypt and some other religions in the Islamic world, but we also found it pointing out in a disgusting way that the Shi'ites are a minority which suffers from persecution at the hand of Sunni Moslems who form the majority in the Islamic world. This is an American attempt to attack the unity of the Islamic nation. We appreciate the attitude of Imam Mohammed Mahdi Shams Al-Din, president of the Islamic Shi'ite Council in Lebanon. He issued a very objective and enlightening statement in response to the report. He refused to accept what was written in the report and asked Shi'ites not to give attention to this report. He said that Western forces (governmental, political and media), connected to intelligence circles, are trying to smash the Arab and Islamic nation and split them into different parties. Shams Al-Din warned the Arabic and Islamic governments of the probable results of the report and of the devastating consequences on the national level in every Arabic and Islamic state. He invited Shi'ite Moslems not to be fooled or affected by this report and not to consider themselves a minority that looks for protection from the American view.{through the American law}.

America legislates for the world!

The great Islamic thinker Dr. Emara explains this attitude and says: "The United Sates wants to legislate for the world. They do this in a way that imposes western concepts and ideas." Dr. Emara adds: "The expression 'minorities' does not exist in the Islamic civilization tradition. Speaking of minorities in the Islamic world is a projection of western concepts on a civilization and a historical reality that did not know this concept. Islam looked at the state in the form of a unit that includes diversity because the Islamic nation knows diversity in religions and languages. Thus, the presence of several religions is perceived by Islam as the original and basic state. This means the concept of ethnicity does not exist in Islam, while the West built its concept of 'minority' based on ethnic concepts. Islam considers this view on ethnicity as a draw back to time of Jahilia [time before Islam]. And since the state of Medina [was founded] in the time of prophet Mohammed there has been diversity in the people of the state."

Dr. Emara points out that Islam is the only religion that recognizes other religions. The faith of Muslim believers is not complete except if they believe in all previous beliefs. That is why the Islamic nation is the only one that permits freedom of belief and performing religious rituals and hallows the sacred.

Dr. Emara says: "Muslims have not disagreed on the foundation and the laws of Islam but where it came to speaking about faith there were divergences. The Islamic jurisdiction [fiqh] has been multiplied but the Shi'ites, like Sunnites are united in the law and basic tenets of Islam and its pillars. They disagree in the theory on the Imams and the small disagreements between the Gaafari?? belief does not exceed that the of disagreement between the Sunnites themselves."

Dr. Emara adds: "In brief, we are facing the American report that represents an intervention in our internal affairs. It attacks us in our national sovereignty. This report has to be faced as a part of a globalization that is nothing but an 'Americanizing' of the world. The report gives globalization a legislative prospect and gives the image to develop an understanding between Shi'ite and Sunna while in fact it is meant to destroy this understanding.

In spite of all what was said, we cannot put the Shi'ites among minorities, except if there are political reasons like Iraqi Shi'ites who the West seeks use as an opposition front to the Iraqi regime.

Abu Leila [note: the article doesn't mention who he is] says: "I don't accept a guardianship of Islamic nations and I refuse the creation of reasons to intervene in the affairs of Islamic states!"

Persecution of Moslems in America

Dr. Abdel Mo'ti Bayoumi, Dean of College of Religious Fundamentals ['Usul Al-Din] at the Azhar University comments on the American report and says: "If America watches persecution in the world it better watches persecution of Moslems in their own country as well as persecution of colored and protect the persecuted." Bayoumi called for ignoring the report and in the same time he thinks that the United States will intervene in the affairs of weak countries under the umbrella of this report. "For Egypt, we will not accept such an intervention. We are a nation with history."

Translation copyright © 1999 Religion News Service of the Arab World

Continued on next page | Meditations on the report on international religious freedom

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