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Saudi writer criticizes UK press for being

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 5 November

[Article by Hamad al-Majid: "Saudis and Hatred: Provocation or Victims?"]

The decision by some respected British newspapers to accuse a number of British Islamic centres and institutions of publishing literature that encourages hatred of non-Muslims during King Abdallah's recent visit to the United Kingdom was not a coincidence.

The Daily Telegraph settled for publishing accusations without making any insinuation against Saudi Arabia. It published the results of a survey that was conducted by Policy Exchange, which mentioned in its report that "literature that encourages hatred of Christians and Jews can be easily found at many mosques in the United Kingdom."

The Times suggested more clearly Saudi Arabia's involvement in this issue when it mentioned on its first page that "books calling for the killing of lapsed Muslims, ordering women to remain indoors, and forbidding interfaith marriages are being sold inside some mosques and Islamic cent! res." The newspaper explicitly pointed out that most of these books were found at mosques and Islamic centres that are either linked to Saudi Arabia or supervised or managed by Saudi imams.

In most cases, respected British media outlets do not lie and do not openly make false accusations. However, they are sometimes selective in terms of the pieces of information they present or choose to present, or they ignore any piece of information that does not support their position even if it is true.

This selectivity is often not so innocent, and this is the Western media's never-ending crisis in dealing with Islam.

The Times did not lie when it mentioned that there are Islamic books at Islamic centres that call for the killing of apostates from Islam, encourage women to stay at home, and ban interfaith marriages - although I can smell the scent of distorted presentation. Nevertheless, the roots of these issues are spread in major Islamic shari'ah resources! and are elaborated in books that are found at the Islamic Library and even at Western public libraries.

We cannot guard ourselves against these issues nor can we eliminate them [from books], because in this case, we would have to get rid of all the copies of the holy Koran and Sunnah books available in the United Kingdom. Such information is similar to the information we find in major resources on other religions and cultures. This information remains in books and on library shelves as a source of knowledge. The controversy that these issues, their interpretation, their purposes, and ways of implementation have aroused and are still arousing is old and will never end.

It is wrong and dangerous to allow the sale, the publication, and the distribution of flyers and booklets that preach Islam and that include information that might be misunderstood or that is not suitable for presentation outside Islamic states.

I recall when I was in charge of the Islamic Centre in London in the 1990s a priest from a nearby church wrote me a p! olite letter in which he wondered if we would truly kill a Muslim in the United Kingdom for apostatizing from Islam. He referred to a booklet on Islamic faith by a renowned Muslim cleric that some fanatic brought to the Islamic Centre to be distributed for free. The booklet mentions that in Islam, if a Muslim apostatizes from Islam he will be asked to repent. If he does not, he shall be killed.

Despite my knowledge that this issue can be found in all Islamic heritage resources belonging to all shades of Islam and Islamic schools of thought, I ordered to cease the distribution of this booklet to prevent any unnecessary distortion and confusion that it might cause for the Islamic Centre.

British newspapers twist their selectivity muscles when it comes to the affairs of Arabs and Muslims. Their strength declines and they become very weak in facing the Jewish lobby. As far as we know, British newspapers never questioned or criticized the books that are displayed and! sold by Jewish synagogues, including the Talmud, which is filled with the harshest racist phrases and expressions against non-Jews.

British newspapers did not dedicate their pens, researches, and researchers to examining the Israeli educational curricula, which are overflowing with racist antagonism against Arabs and Muslims, similar to what they did with Arab and Saudi curricula in particular.

These newspapers have also demonstrated extreme indifference to the great and many efforts by key Islamic centres and institutions to spread centrism and face extremism. A large Islamic centre in Manchester, namely, the British Muslim Heritage Centre [BMHC], was established recently with the support of Arabian Gulf states - including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - only to spread centrism and advocate moderation within the Muslim community. It also coordinated with British institutions to fight terrorism.

Nevertheless, British newspapers showed no interest in its establishment or inauguration. They only shed light on the activities and ! statements by reckless Muslim minorities, as if they are the only legitimate representatives of Islam in the United Kingdom.

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 5 Nov 07


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