And why not, exactly?
“Saudi Arabia to build a mosque in Moscow,” from Interfax, November 21:
Moscow, November 21, Interfax — King of Saudi Arabia has initiated construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Moscow.
“If Russian authorities allocate a parcel of land, then Saudi Arabia will finance the building,” Head of Foreign Department at the Russian Muftis Council Rushan Abbyasov told Interfax-Religion….
“Russian mufti recognizes the Saudi have right not to allow Christians to Mecca while Christians can build a church in Arabia,” from Interfax, November 25:
Moscow, November 25, Interfax — Co-chairman of Russian Mufti Council Nafigullah Ashirov has recognized the right of Saudi Arabia not to let Christians to Mecca and Medina, though Christians have the right to build their own church in the country.
He told this to an Interfax-Religion correspondent commenting on the address of Russian Orthodox public figures to the Saudi king with the request to observe the rights of Christian living in Arabia.
“We can’t give instructions that contradict the acting laws of other country, no matter if it is America, Great Britain or Israel. My personal opinion is inseparable from acting laws,” the Mufti said.
I hope his coreligionists in America, Great Britain and Israel take those words to heart.
“If Christians can visit Mecca and Medina or not – this question doesn’t fall within my province, but it is an absolutely different country, they have their own leaders and laws. Israel also has its own laws: for example, people under 45 are not allowed to Al-Aqsa Mosque, it is their country, and they decided such wise. There is a country — there is a law, the laws should be respected and stick to,” he went on to say.
Ashirov believes, when the number of Orthodox believers in Saudi Arabia will reach such a level that they could organize their own community, “there will be no problems with building an Orthodox Church in Saudi Arabia.”
And how exactly would the number of Orthodox believers in Saudi Arabia ever reach such a level, while Saudis so vehemently discourage all non-Muslim religious practice?
Answering the question, if an Orthodox community has a right to build a church in Saudi Arabia, the Mufti said, “Why not! However everything should be done on legal basis: if they turn to an appropriate state structure and have permission, they will surely do it.”
And how will they get legal permission when such a thing is illegal in Saudi Arabia?
Anyway, now it gets good:
“Russian Orthodox figures ask Saudi King’s permission to build a Christian church in Arabia,” from Interfax, November 25:
Moscow, November 25, Interfax — Representatives of Orthodox public organizations addressed the King of Saudi Arabia an open letter with a request to build an Orthodox Church in his country.
The address, conveyed to Interfax-Religion, was initiated after the Saudi Kingdom announced its plans to build a mosque in Moscow.
“You often say that Islam is a religion of justice. However, if Saudi Arabia builds mosques in dozens of Christian countries, isn’t it just to build a church for Christians living in Your Kingdom!” the letter says.
To support their words the authors quoted Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran who said that “if Muslims believe it right to have a great striking mosque in Rome, than it is right for Christians to build a church in Riyadh.”
Orthodox believers remind that preachers of monotheism – Christians – came to Mecca and Medina several centuries before Muslims, while Jews historically resided there. Therefore, it is unjust not to allow them in the territories, where their ancestors lived, where their churches and cemeteries were located.
“Saudi Arabia, as any other country of the world, is a multiconfessional and policonfessional state. It would be just to grant the freedom of faith to Christian minority as their share exceeds 10 per cent,” the address further says.
Its authors consider it is very important to lift restrictions on visits of Christians to Mecca and Medina, to permit them to wear crosses, to publish religious literature and preach their religion. “It would be just to create the same conditions for Saudi Christians as Muslims have in Russia,” Orthodox activists stressed.
“It is the only way to make interreligious dialogue honest and just,” the address written by the Moscow Division of the Union of Orthodox citizens, the Radonezh Society and the Byzantium Club concludes.
“It is the only way to make interreligious dialogue honest and just.” Quite so!
Thanks to John Doe for all the links.