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Stands >2004 Stands >The Stand of Sha'ban 6 1425H / September 21, 2004 A.D.


America and the freedom of religion

Sayyed Fadlullah: we do not have anything against any American or European criticism about the lack of freedoms, especially religious ones, that our region actually suffers from. We call on the Arabs and Islamic regimes to respect these freedoms, and study the negative impact on their existence that this persecution might lead to, in addition to its repercussions on the society that might indulge in civil strife that is planned for by the international arrogance who created the problem and then presents itself as the solution.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: How should we deal with the Western reports that accuse the Arab and Islamic world of intolerance?

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said:

One might not be able to deny the big difference between the Islamic perception of freedom of religion and the way it is practiced by individuals, groups or states in the Arab and Islamic region: There are many restrictions and violations of this freedom as a result of both sectarian and political pressures and social or historical complications as well. It has reached the point of discrimination between sects of the same religion, which is being legitimized in a way that might persecute sectarian, ethnic and political minorities.

Yet such an attitude runs counter to the teachings and concepts of Islam which recognizes the other and indoctrinates the practice of members of all heavenly religions their rights. It has called the people of the Book-Christians and Jews, to reach a common factor to believe in the oneness of God and join hands in building the society.

That is why we have always called those who present themselves as Muslims to abide by this rule and conduct a dialogue with the People of the Book in "the best way". We have also called those who are in power to present an Islamic model in dealing with other Islamic sects that is based on the unity of the Islamic doctrine.

And because we believe that persecuting a certain ideology does not destroy it but rather invigorates it and present it to the world as a martyr. We have, especially in the age of globalization and the internet, to confront thought with thought. Moreover, we should promote and encourage religious freedoms with the same vigor we stand against accusations of unbelief and demagogical campaigns.

We should also promote religious dialogue that ought to be objective and academic whether within the Islamic sphere or with the Christians and Jews.

We have no problem with the Jewish religion, but we are against the unjust practices they have done through out their history or their current practices against Arabs and Palestinians, as well as their efforts to intimidate the world to promote their own interests and goals.

As for America, we do not believe that it is a state that represents a model in respecting freedom, entitling it to watch over religious freedoms. It even cannot present itself as an advanced model of Western civilization, due to its history with the native Indians and in its current practice of promoting freedom in the world only where it serves its interests.

Nevertheless, we do not deny that there are several points, which are true in the Department of State report regarding religious freedoms. But we would like to ask: why is not Israel included in the list? Does it not murder religious clerics including crippled ones, like Sheik Ahmad Yassin, violate the sanctity of sacred places like Al-Aqsa Mosque and act in a racial manner against the Arabs in occupied Palestine.

Moreover, it is America that encouraged the violation of religious freedoms in the region when it protected the dictatorships. And it is America that is now persecuting the Muslim Americans, on the basis that every Muslim is guilty until proven innocent. It also prevents any criticism of Israeli crimes, while allowing anyone who wants to attack Muslims or accuse Islam as being the problem and the cause of terrorism to say whatever he feels like .

The political pressures America has made against the Muslim Americans might turn into a popular climate that might persecute the Muslims in their daily life, despite all the claims by the American officials about America being the land of freedom.

Despite all this, we do not have anything against any American or European criticism about the lack of freedoms, especially religious ones, that our region actually suffers from. We call on the Arabs and Islamic regimes to respect these freedoms, and study the negative impact on their existence that this persecution might lead to, in addition to its repercussions on the society that might indulge in civil strife that is planned for by the international arrogance who created the problem and then presents itself as the solution.