Daily Pager

A blog about culture and politics

How about protesting for a church in Saudi Arabia?

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From the NY POST:

Thousands of rowdy protestors with dueling agendas converged on Lower Manhattan today, using the spotlight of 9/11 as a showcase for the Ground Zero mosque debate.

Both sides drew large, boisterous crowds with about 3,000 pro-mosque demonstrators marching from City Hall to the Federal Building and 2,500 anti-mosque protestors rallying near the controversial Park Place site of the proposed Islamic Center.

The protests here in the US are and have been over an appropriate site for the Cordoba Project/mosque.   Supporters feel that the proposed site is a welcome sign of tolerance.  Those against,  are of the opinion that it’s too close to Ground Zero. 

Isn’t it time, in fairness, that we focus on Saudi Arabia where churches are completely banned?   The Catholic Church has been long advocating for reciprocity but very little attention has been given to the issue. 

Newt Gingrich recently brought it up but was off the mark with his initial response:

 There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over. 

He made a better argument here:

Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for “religious toleration” are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enter Mecca. [...]

If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom.   They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign.

Still, there is some positive news to report.  The first Catholic Church opened in Doha, Qatar in ’08.  And the Saudi’s have come close to granting permission for a church to be built, but they aren’t quite there yet.

Vatican officials have confirmed that in November 2007, when King Abdullah became the first reigning Saudi monarch to visit the Vatican, he was pressed by Pope Benedict about the possibility of allowing a parish for the estimated 800,000 Catholics– mostly foreign laborers– who now live in Saudi Arabia. Although Saudi law does not allow public worship for followers of any faith other than Islam, King Abdullah reportedly signaled his willingness to consider building a Catholic parish church.

In March an influential Saudi leader– the president of the Middle East Center for Strategic Studies, Anwatr al Oshqi– announced that the government had decided against proceeding with plans for a Catholic church. That announcement was unofficial, but because it was broadcast by a television station controlled by the Saudi royal family, it was widely interpreted as an authoritative signal that the matter was closed.

So as it stands, an enormous amount of attention has been focused on the particular location of a proposed Islamic community center/mosque in NYC.   Yet there’s very little reporting on Saudi Arabia’s intolerant  policies.

Written by dailypager

September 13, 2010 at 1:51 am

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