Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia calls for destruction of churches

From the Christian Telegraph:

Saudi Arabia declares destruction of all churches in region
Earlier this month news reports surfaced out of Saudi Arabia that raised the red flag for Christians, reports MNN.

Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says, “The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia–the top Islamic official in the country of Saudi Arabia–has declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.'” Nettleton goes on to note that the report hasn’t surfaced anywhere except on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site, which was then picked up by The Atlantic.

Ranked second on the Open Doors World Watch List (a compilation of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe), the news is not really a surprise. There is no provision for religious freedom in the constitution of this Islamic kingdom.

All citizens must adhere to Islam, and conversion to another religion is punishable by death. Public Christian worship is forbidden; worshipers risk imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and torture. Evangelizing Muslims and distributing non-Islamic materials is illegal. Muslims who convert to Christianity risk honor killings and foreign Christian workers have been exposed to abuse from employers.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, created an implication with his assertion. Nettleton explains, “This was in a meeting with Kuwaiti officials who came to Saudi Arabia. They were asking this Islamic official ‘What should we do about the churches?’ His statement was, ‘There should be no Christian churches on the Arabian peninsula.'”

According to the report, the delegation wanted to confirm Sharia’s position on churches. Essentially, Nettleton says, “If you have churches in Kuwait, which they do, they should be destroyed. The interesting thing about this is that there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. There are no church buildings that are allowed to exist there. So he clearly wasn’t talking only for his own country: he was trying to export this ideology to the surrounding countries.”


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  1. mschu528 says:

    Oh no, what ever will our “Dictatorship of Tolerance” friends do now?!? If they oppose the Grand Mufti, it will appear that they are intolerant of Islam; if they support him, they are supporting his intolerance of the True Faith! Such a quandary…. Oh yeah, I forgot — intolerance of Christianity is perfectly okay: it is the last acceptable prejudice!

  2. Anchorite says:

    No, by publicly speaking out, a progress achieved in the Catholic-Muslim dialogue in just the past couple of weeks would be derailed. Patience! Let us not condemn our brothers and partners, but instead ask them what WE can do better to make them change their mind.

  3. mschu528 says:

    You are joking, right?

  4. Johnno says:

    Time for more pastoral talk & emergency joint inter-faith prayer sessions? May Obama & the heavenly hosts of the UN save us!

  5. Bob B. says:

    When the majority of those “schooled” in the Mid-East are male and their teachers are the local imam that only teaches from the Koran, wonder what most of them think?

  6. Phil_NL says:

    So much for ‘dialogue with islam’, part MMMDCCXVII.

    In other news, they may apply islamic law to a kid who stabbed someone. the victim got paralyzed, and now an islamic ‘judge’ is considering an order that the attacker must suffer the same fate.

    To summarize: islam and civilization do not mix – choose one.

  7. mamajen says:

    I hope the pope has some amazing security in place if he does visit Iraq as he has reportedly said he will do.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    And this is what all that Saudi funding for wonderful groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and a hundred others in Syria is going to accomplish. There will at some point soon be an attempt to root out completely the remnants of the Faith in its ancient heartland. Pray for the See of Antioch my friends.

  9. APX says:

    Coming soon to Canada near you…

    No, seriously, it is. I’m taking Canadian geography in school right now, and my prof openly states that our population face make up is changing because rather than bring in migrants from Eastern European countries like we have in the past, we’re now bringing in migrants from Muslim countries. Given the current birth : death ratio, our population can’t sustain itself, so they’ve opened up the immigration floodgates to increase this flow. Now, because of Canada’s Multiculturalism Act this is all okay and they don’t have to adapt to Canadian culture.

    The mayor of Toronto wanted the Canadian government to implement Sharia Law into the legal system for Muslims, but our democracy voted it down in parliament. As our population face changes, this won’t work and we will be under Sharia Law.

    Of course, people don’t believe me when I say this. If the Europeans could do it to the aboriginals, the Muslims can do it to us too. History repeats itself.

    mamajen says:
    I hope the pope has some amazing security in place if he does visit Iraq as he has reportedly said he will do.

    I hope the pope actually maintains security protocol and doesn’t decide to go off on an impromptu “meet and greet” with the people.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    If you’ve ever wondered what the consequences of birth control and abortion were, wonder no longer. They’re here. Nature hates a vacuum, and societies that don’t reproduce die.

    Anybody who’s engaged in these practices really doesn’t have a right to complain. We’ve done this to ourselves.

  11. Fr AJ says:

    The “Religion of Peace” strikes again!

  12. Anchorite says:

    I hope Francis is principled enough to continue his “Buenos Aires” style in Rome or in his travels. Take a public plane to Baghdad or walk to work. How big was St. Francis’s security detail? Otherwise some people would question the sincerity of that new humility in action. Francis is the Bishop of Rome, not some crowned pope-monarchs of the past.
    I say, if Muslim-foot-washing doesn’t fix it, you are not doing it enough.

  13. jhayes says:

    There are two apostolic vicariates (corresponding to dioceses) for the arabian peninsula

    This is the Northern vicariate, which has 7 parishes covering Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. I have attended Mass at the Cathedral in Kuwait City on a number of occasions and I have never encountered any anti-Christian sentiment in the country.

    The Southern Vicariate has 15 parishes covering Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

    Saudi Arabia is part of the Northern Vicariate but there are no Catholic (or other) churches there. From what I have heard, Catholic priests visit the country and say Mass in houses from time to time.

    The Grand Mufti’s statement is not surprising. Whether any other country will be influenced by it seems doubtful to me.

    I haven’t seen any other article about this so I don’t know who were the people from Kuwait who came to meet the Grand Mufti. There has been a growth in conservative Islam in Kuwait over the past twenty years so it may have been representatives of one of those groups.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    You should always take heart about a very basic thing that Christianity is, and has, compared to Islam.

    Islam is a cultural entity, rather like Catholicism in a lot of regards, but the basic theological assumptions of Islam and Christianity differ dramatically in one regard: Their missions are very different. And when push comes to shove, this affects the viability of each religion in a dramatic way.

    The mission of the Christian faith is to “go forth and make disciples of God,” given in Matthew 28. The mission of Islam is to convert the world for God. Note the difference, which only looks subtle on the surface. Muslims believe that God is a ruler and a judge who doesn’t care if you love him in a personal way and have a living relationship or not. Muslims are to convert the world, by literally any means necessary. It makes them look formidable, but belies the weakness of the command. People do not, in large numbers, respond to a command like that unless they are forced to do so. Thus the injunction to destroy Churches, which from this perspective in necessary. Whereas, Christians believe in a love that is stronger than death, which makes us look weak but makes us stronger than Islam can ever imagine.

  15. BLB Oregon says:

    If one of our own from the USCCB were making grand pronouncements about what bishops and governments in other countries ought to be doing, we could be 99% sure that such a pronouncement was delivered for the advantages that would come from local consumption rather than distance consumption. The USCCB is not the Pope, and the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is not the Pope’s Islamic equivalent.

    When you want to actually persuade someone in a position of authority from your own position of authority in another jurisdiction, you do so more discretely than this, so that when change comes the people in the other jurisdictions who made their own changes will not appear to have let you lead them by the nose. It is possible that such a highly-placed cleric in the Middle East doesn’t quite get that–human nature is human nature, and none are immune–but I find it extremely hard to believe. The only international message I would take from this announcement is that the Grand Mufti is pointedly drawing a line in the abundant sand surrounding him about what he thinks about this new Pope and his talk of “dialogue.” No surprise there, but form must be followed. The Saudis won’t be inviting the Holy Father to celebrate an open-air Mass in Riyadh any time soon.

    I’m not saying we have no cause for alarm–I would be lying very low, were I living in Saudi Arabia–but that the announcement cannot be taken at face value.

  16. jhayes says:

    The story seems to be:

    1. Two members of parliament in Kuwait are promoting a bill to prohibit construction of more churches in Kuwait (existing churches could remain).

    2. A Kuwaii non-government group called the “Society for the Revival of Islamic Heritage” went to Saudi Arabia and asked the Grand Mufti what he thought. What he said is the same thing he and his predecessors have been saying for years – nothing new but it got them some publicity in newspapers and on the web.


  17. Jason Keener says:

    Sometimes Catholic traditionalists insist that after Vatican II, countries like Spain and Italy should have continued to ban the public manifestation of non-Catholic religions; however, it was actually very prudent for the Church to no longer insist on such public bans in those Catholic countries because it then makes it very difficult for the Church to argue that Islamic countries should allow the free public practice of religion in their own countries. It is true that the Catholic Religion is the only objectively true religion through which every man should approach and worship God in public and private; however, sometimes the Catholic Church has to act prudently and do the best it can with imperfect circumstances. In short, the Church, as highlighted in “Dignitatis Humane,” is correct to focus on the freedom of religion at this point in history because so many Catholics themselves have been and are being persecuted by Communists, Islamists, and Secularists.

  18. NBW says:

    “The Religion of Peace” is pretty intolerant of Christians.

  19. mamajen says:

    @ Anchorite

    Stay classy.

  20. Clinton R. says:

    “Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia calls for destruction of churches”

    Sadly, most of the destruction of churches in our time has been thanks to the “spirit” of Vatican II. And since we are on the topic of the ‘religion of peace’, how long are we going to have to hear that phrase, when there is so much evidence to the contrary?

  21. Bob B. says:

    In WWII, we had the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem help Hitler by recruiting Muslim volunteers, used ex-Nazis in attempting to halt the creation of Israel and he was an uncle of Arafat.
    Though the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is a regional figure, because Islam has no central authority, his influence is somewhat limited. However, Saudi money ends up all over the world (including the US), so Arabs might look a little harder at what he has to say.

  22. Phil_NL says:

    BLB Oregon:

    islamic tradition holds literally that there may be on religion other than islam in the arab peninsula (holy land for them, and such). This means eradicating all other institutional vestiges of any other religion, and if they could get away with it, they’d bar non-mulsims from the entire country 9as they do in mecca). This should be taken very literally, Kuwait is on the arab peninsula afterall. `

    Does this mean that bulldozers will report to the site of any churches in Kuwait tomorrow? Probably not. But it is something thqat will be remembered, and when there is some uproar, for any reason whatsoever, the mob will take a detour and raze the church. It is permitted, afterall – that’s once again confirmed. And after that, the building license to restore the church will not be forthcoming, as another tenet of islam is that no religions may build or repair houses of worship, even if a mob has burned them down in a riot. Especially after an islamic mob has torn it down, to be precise.

  23. Phil_NL says:

    1st line: on = no.

  24. acardnal says:

    Phil_NL, if I remember correctly, you reside in the Netherlands. Presumably, that gives you first-hand knowledge of the influence and spread of Islam in the Netherlands and Western Europe, too.

    Here in the USA we allow Saudi Arabia to fund the building of mosques all over, but our State Department refuses to engage in a quid pro quo with the Saudis. No Christian churches there, no Christian clerics, no bibles. I have been there, and can assure you that when you go through Customs they look through your luggage for booze, porn and, oh yeah, bibles . . . all contraband!

  25. thefeds says:

    I would humbly suggest that for every Church destroyed in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere), we raze a mosque, starting with the newly built one in Rome. When all Moslems start playing nice with Christians in Saudi Arabia, then I say it will be time to start a dialogue with them!

  26. Phil_NL says:


    Indeed, I do. And while the influence of islam here isn’t primarily based on Saudi money (though there is some, same with the Qatari and UAE-guys), we have enough similar issues with the Turkish and Moroccan governments. 90% (or thereabouts) of the muslims in the Netherlands come from those places or are descended from immigrants. That means that Turkey and Morocco are the countries to watch, and their governments actively try to keep asserting control over their emigrated country-men (even if they are, technically, third generation Dutch). The main mechanism is through mosques, with imams being shipped out of the mother-country, payed by those governments. And while these countries aren’t quite as obnoxious in terms of harassing Christians as the Saudi’s, they do behave unacceptably as well – you can ask the Orthodox Patriach in Constantinopel / Istanbul. That hostility towards Christians does seep into the islamic population here as well; they had it when they came, and the home countries kindles it at every turn.

    There have been some initiatives to get some sort of quid pro quo attitude in Europe, though besides a Swiss prohibition on minarets, it went nowhere. And frankly, it’s not the imbalance that is the real issue. If Saudi Arabia cs allowed Christians to worship and evangelize freely, I still wouldn’t want islam settled in Europe. And if it was any other religion, I wouldn’t want to descend to their level by impeding the freedom of religion. But in the case of islam, the entire package, from islamic supremacy to anti-semitism to the mixing of religion and political ideology (which makes it go beyond freedom of religion, as islam aims to overthrow the state) is such that it simply cannot coexist with Western civilization in one spot. One or the other will perish eventually.

    PS: apologies for all the typos in the earlier post. I’m quite ashamed of that, I shouldn’t be multitasking, that much is obvious.

  27. Phil_NL says:


    Razing mosques is not something we should want to do – we should strive to be better than that, and if circumstances dictate otherwise, well, than we’d be in a civil war context. Horrible.

    And it wouldn’t solve the problem either. It’s a problem beyond ‘solving’ (again, unless all hell break loose, but it serves no point in speculating what shape such a cataclysm would take, and I hope and pray we’ll be saved such horrors). Containment (no new immigration, primarily) is, for the foreseeable future, all that’s possible. Sadly, almost all our politicians are dead-set on making matters worse.

  28. Johnno says:

    Well in the end when we put all this into perspective –

    Muslims want to convert everybody to Islam.

    Catholics want to convert everybody to Catholicism.

    Secularists don’t really know what they want, but by hook or crook they want to make everyone just like them.

    All these little ‘peace treaties’ and ‘ecumenism’ we are engaging in now is a temporary ceasefire until one day inevitably we have to pick a side and its winner take all.

  29. Anchorite says:

    Many of my students are Muslim, and they are the best, most educated about Christianity, hardworking students. I cannot say the same about their Irish Catholic American classmates. Maybe instead of even thinking to destroy mosques, we start with rebuilding our own Church. Parishes that offer TLM are fuller than the rest. Good old Mass rebuilds lives. That’s what we need in EVERY Catholic Latin Rite parish. Period.
    (That would be “classy”)

  30. SKAY says:

    “Here in the USA we allow Saudi Arabia to fund the building of mosques all over”

    Exactly–and they are building mega mosques in places where the Muslim population is relatively small. Apparently they have plans to fill them at some point. Perhaps the Obama administration and the Democrats have made some promises for votes and giving them access by electing them to state legislatures and the US House and Senate–along with judgeships. They DO think political and long term.
    They will talk and talk as long as you want–and use our freedoms in the US until they gain population and political control.

  31. Dialogue with Muslims is a waste of time.One definition of dialogue is a talking together; conversation; interchange and discussion of ideas, esp. when open and frank, as in seeking mutual understanding or harmonyThey’re not interested.Their idea of dialogue is they talk,you listen and the goal is that you will convert to Islam.

  32. veritasmeister says:

    There’s really nothing that new here. Islam has traditionally forbidden non-Islamic houses of worship in ‘Arabia’, though it seems that there is a splintering of Islamic thought as to what areas do or do not follow under this prohibition. And it applies to all other religions, not just Christianity. There are functioning Christian churches as nearby as Egypt, Sudan, and Iran. And the latter has Jewish synagogues and Zoroastrian temples to boot.

  33. Long-Skirts says:


    The bells –
    They stopped years ago
    At the Consecration
    Of many a Mass

    Where kneeling down
    Their Savior adore
    The people said “…that
    We’ll pass.”

    And now at six
    The happy-hour
    When the Angelus
    Used to chime

    There are no bells
    To remind the people
    Pray your souls
    To prime.

    And in the night clubs
    Dancing till dawn
    The people sin
    No regret…

    And now at six
    The “mourning” hour
    Bells die with each passing

  34. acricketchirps says:

    thefeds say I would humbly suggest that for every Church destroyed … we raze a mosque…

    Phil_NL says Razing mosques is not something we should want to do…

    Dang it, it’s annoying being on the good guys’ side!

  35. Kathleen10 says:

    Long-Skirts: I like it.
    I’m way past the point of simple unbridled skepticism or positivity on this matter. Anyone who doesn’t see how it is is frankly, a fool, in my opinion. If the facts were somehow collected, here and now, it would be unavoidably plain that Islam is making a genocidal effort against all christians that is working. Our brothers and sisters in the faith are being persecuted, tortured, killed. The media and the world look the other way. We pretend. We ignore.
    There is precious little “dialogue” that can be had. There is extremely little common ground. You cannot reason with madmen who deny your right to merely exist. You cannot reason with madmen who do not value life. You cannot reason with madmen who’s God is a god of killing infidels and it is your responsibility to do the same. They have been taught this and told this in the schools that we have paid for! WE paid for 27 mosques to be built in, I think, Saudi Arabia, in the last five years or so. They hate us. Egypt, same thing. Children are taught to hate us in schools, as their textbooks are full of hate and lies about us.

    While our children here are given propaganda and the same sorts of lies. America is “bad”, foreign cultures are “good”. And it is the definition of insanity to keep allowing muslims to fill up our countries, since their goal is to produce as many muslims as they can to take over “without a shot”. It is happening right now, in silly and foolish countries everywhere, including as we see, Canada and the US.
    Why don’t we take in the christians? Why not them? Put them on a fast track for entry and citizenship! It is horrible that they are suffering the way they are, while people have the gall to talk about “discussions” with their rabid persecutors. America is so foolish, so distanced from our pioneers spirit of right and wrong and nothing in between, so…TOLERANT. We tolerate everything now, even crazy people who want to kill us and our children.
    It will be used against our grandchildren and their children. But I can’t imagine anything that will detach this foolish nation (us) from our politically correct silliness. We can’t say the truth anymore. We might offend someone if we say muslim, islamic, terrorist, murderous, vandals, and evil. It might hurt our nice neighbor’s feelings. We might be labeled a bigot, and I suppose that would end life for us as we know it. Oh my gosh, what fools we mortals be!

  36. Supertradmum says:

    A long time ago, Solzhenitsyn said one cannot have detente with atheistic communism. He was right, and he spent years in prison for his bravery and clarity of thought.

    When are Catholics going to wake up and realize several things which indicate that we cannot have detente with Islam?

    1) Muslims laugh at negotiations-they have no intention to compromise; it is not part of their religion (I have taught Islam at the university level, btw). They have a universal world view which is that Allah wants all the world to be under sharia law and Muslim.

    2) Islam is a materialistic religion, not created by God but by a man, and is syncretic, using many sources, such as the Torah and Bible; it emphasizes the material kingdom of God over the spiritual one and is materialistic in the views of heaven

    3) Islam is legalistic; if one performs certain deeds, one will get to heaven, like bargaining with God. There is little in the understanding of the masses of Muslims as to daily conversion and the life of the virtues, or the surrender of the heart to God. Their language on these points does not mean the same thing as Catholics do. We are not talking about the same things even if the words are similar or the same. Conversion is abiding by Islam and not a personal relationship with God. Allah is not seen as a loving Father. One is as the Koran states, “a slave of Allah” not a son or daughter.

    4) There is no such thing as grace; one either is or is not a Muslim and the entire culture has to be changed to become Islamic in order for people to follow sharia law. This law is supposedly God’s law and therefore is higher than, for example, any nation’s constitution.

    5) The reason churches are outlawed is that they are an affront to the total cultural hegemony of the Islamic world view. There is not an idea of tolerance in Islam. Read the Koran and the hadith.

    6) Detente is seen as weakness by them. They are allowed by the their teachings to lie to infidels and Jews; therefore, any semblance of compromise is either false, or seen as a temporary measure in the overtaking of the nations of the world.

    The very few Muslims who are intellectual who want to discuss these points with Catholics are few and many are derided by their own people. If you remember, several years ago, the entire Muslim group of scholars walked out of talks in Rome, I think it was December of 2011, as they got upset about something.

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  38. MichaelJ says:

    Phil_NL, if you are speaking from a prudential perspective, then I agree that razing mosques is not something we should want to do. Otherwise, no. I
    slam is, at best, an evil that should be tolerated if doing otherwise would be detrimental to the common good. In today’s climate, it certainly would cause great harm but as a general principle, I certainly think we should “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles”

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