(by Meghan Clyne, Oct. 5, 2005, NYSun.com) WASHINGTON – The American government is demanding that Saudi Arabia account for its distribution of hate material to American mosques, as the State Department pressed Saudi officials for answers last week and as the Senate later this month plans to investigate the propagation of radical Wahhabism on American shores.
The flurry of activity comes months after a report from the Center for Religious Freedom discovered that dozens of mosques in major cities across the country, including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, were distributing documents, bearing the seal of the government of Saudi Arabia, that incite Muslims to acts of violence and promote hatred of Jews and Christians.
A Washington-based group that is part of the human rights organization Freedom House, the Center for Religious Freedom also found during its yearlong study that the Saudi-produced materials describe democracy and America as un-Islamic. They instruct recent Muslim immigrants to consider Americans as enemies and the materials urge new arrivals to use their time here as preparation for jihad. The documents also promote the version of Islam officially embraced by Saudi government and several of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, Wahhabism, as the only authentic Islam.
In response to the Freedom House report and as part of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005 sponsored by Senator Specter, a Republican of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee – of which Senator Specter is chairman – will be holding hearings into the hate materials on October 25, a spokesman for the senator, William Reynolds, said yesterday.
The Accountability Act, introduced in June, says its purpose is “to halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure fully Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents.” The legislation is highly critical of the House of Saud for its support of terrorist activity and cites the January Freedom House report as evidence of the kingdom’s complicity in the spread of radical Islamist ideology. As part of the Accountability Act, Senator Specter has in the past held Judiciary Committee hearings into Saudi financing of terrorism and Saudi Arabia’s role in injecting ideology into textbooks for Palestinian Arab schoolchildren.
Many of the details of the Judiciary Committee hearing later this month, Mr. Reynolds said, are still being arranged, including a final witness list. In the meantime, the committee expects testimony from the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Freedom House, and terrorism experts. The committee will press to determine whether the Saudi government has taken steps to stop the distribution of the materials, and will cull from witnesses recommendations to prevent their future dissemination, Mr. Reynolds said.
Also demanding answers about the hate materials is the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Karen Hughes. During a high-profile trip to the Middle East last week, Ms. Hughes said American representatives had addressed the propagation of Saudi hate material in America during private meetings with government officials.
In a State Department briefing held en route to Ankara, Turkey, from Saudi Arabia last Tuesday, Ms. Hughes was asked why she had raised the issue that day during a public meeting with Saudi journalists, becoming the first American official to do so publicly. “We had been raising the issue privately,” Ms. Hughes said, “and as part of raising difficult issues that we need to discuss, I felt it was appropriate.” The undersecretary did not elaborate on the results of the private meetings, but the degree to which Saudi Arabia is making efforts to stop the propaganda will be a subject of the Senate hearings, Mr. Reynolds said.
Requests for comment from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia yesterday were not returned.
Reprinted here with permission from the New York Sun. Visit the website at www.nysun.com.
1. Define the following words as used in the article:
propogation, (para. 1)
incite, (para. 2)
abet, complicity (para. 5)
cull, dissemination (para. 6)
2. What will the U.S. Senate investigate later this week? Why will they do so?
3. How does Freedom House know that Saudi Arabia is responsible for the materials inciting Muslims in America to violence and hatred toward Jews, Christians and democracy?
4. List the four examples of hate ideology found in the Saudi sponsored materials. (para 2-3)
5. The Saudi-produced materials describe democracy and America as un-Islamic. If an American described Islam as un-democratic and un-American, what would probably happen to him? (For an example, click here and read paragraphs 2 and 9.) Is the Wahhabi form of Islam un-democratic and un-American? Explain your answer.
6. What is the purpose of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005? (para. 5) (To read the entire document, click here.)
7. List 4 individuals/groups that will testify in the hearings regarding Saudi promotion of hate materials.
8. What are your thoughts on the Saudi government? Why is the U.S. government responsible to take decisive action in this matter?