April Fools Day is coming up. It might be a hoot to tell King Abdullah the exact story that is going on here, but reversing the roles of non-Muslims and Muslims. Tell him that Saudi men and women are stuck working in slave-like conditions and prohibited to publicly express their faith, and the ranking cleric in Country X called for the destruction of all the mosques. Right around the time steam billows out of his ears in indignation, tell him it’s actually Christians living that way in his kingdom. April Fool!
Bring your running shoes.
Shockingly, though, we’ve heard nary a peep from the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna. “Non-Muslim Filipino expats in Saudi Arabia told to be cautious,” by Gilbert P. Felongco for Gulf News, March 25 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Manila: A migrant watchgroup urged Filipinos in Saudi Arabia to be more cautious in expressing their faith after the country’s most influential Islamic scholar issued a fatwa against religious structures in the Arab Peninsula.
In a statement, John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said it is understandable why a religious leader of a kingdom hosting a large population of migrant workers would issue such a restriction on the exercise of religion other than Islam.
Why should Saudi Arabia be exempt from reciprocating the same rights it expects for Muslims anywhere in the world?
He said that Saudi Arabia is not just any other country hosting a large Muslim population but is considered as the centre of the Islamic faith.
But Muslims can not only visit Rome, but live there. The lack of reciprocity by the Saudis is taken for granted and endlessly excused:
“Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state. It is where the two Holy Mosques are located,” Monterona said, referring to the Masjid Al Haram in Makkah and the Masjid Al Nabawi.