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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Saudi king seeks new crusade against atheists


If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s being lectured on morality by a corpulent autocrat with four wives who heads one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

I speak of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that bastion of freedom of thought and freedom of religion. The king recently had a bright idea: Bring together representatives of the world’s monotheistic religions for a confab.

Many media outlets reported this as a positive thing. After all, Muslims and Jews would sit down together in Riyadh. Wouldn’t that dialogue be a good thing? The Washington Post even praised Abdullah’s action as a sign of tolerance.

A large chunk of the world’s population might have reason to feel differently. Let’s look at the details: Abdullah has a plan to unite Islam, Judaism and Christianity against a common foe — non-believers.

The Times of London reported:

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah said, “I have noticed that the family system has weakened and that atheism has increased. That is an unacceptable behavior to all religions, to the Koran, the Torah and the Bible. We ask God to save humanity. There is a lack of ethics, loyalty and sincerity for our religions and humanity.?

Unacceptable? That makes me a bit nervous. After all, homosexuality is “unacceptable? in Saudi Arabia. It can warrant the death penalty.

Imagine if Abdullah has singled out just about any other class of people. Pretend he had said Hinduism is increasing, and this is unacceptable. Substitute Buddhists, Sikhs, followers of Confucius or whatever. Can you imagine the uproar? Would any Christian or Jewish religious leader endorse such talks?

Apparently it’s OK to declare a new crusade as long as it’s aimed at religious skeptics. Ironically, the same day Abdullah called for interfaith dialogue, his government formally denied a request from the Vatican to build the first Christian church in Saudi Arabia. It is, after all, illegal to worship as a Christian in that country. This guy’s going to teach us how to be tolerant? No thanks.

As an aside, anyone who thinks bias against non-believers is limited to countries like Saudi Arabia should check a recent piece by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn. Rob Sherman, a local atheist activist, testified before the Illinois House of Representative’s State Government Administration Committee, expressing his opposition to a bill that would allocate $1 million in tax funds to rehabilitate a church deemed “historic.?

Rep. Monique Davis, a Chicago Democrat, unloaded at Sherman.

“I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I don’t see you fighting guns in school, you know? I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln, where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children…. What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous….?

Davis later added, “Get out of that seat! … You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.?


After Davis’ harangue generated some national attention, she apologized. It’s a start, though I suspect she actually believes what she shouted during the hearing.

I have an idea: Let’s put King Abdullah and Rep. Davis in a tiny room and let them dialogue with one another. They seem to have a lot in common.
Posted by Eclectic Infidel

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