Sunday, January 25, 2004


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It’s too bad there’s no Oscar for the most inflammatory website on the Internet. If there were, would be a surefire winner.

Al minbar means ‘The Pulpit’. So if you’re a radical fundamentalist Imam who finds himself a bit short of vitriol, you can go to this site and find it ‘canned’ and ready for use in your mosque. Today these off-the-shelf khutbahs (sermons) are being used in mosques throughout the Muslim world. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Alminbar site, based in Saudi Arabia, reports it is visited by some 3,000 Imams from 62 countries and territories weekly.

The Alminbar site begins, “Welcome to the - the Orator's garden and the Muslim's provision. Here you will find a variety of material to help you prepare for your sermons.” Contents range from “Conditions for Victory, Reasons for Defeat”, to “Advice For The Times Of Trial”, to “The Virtues Of Martyrdom”, to “The true nature of the enmity between the Muslims and the Jews”, to “The Islamic position on Contagion and Pessimism”, to “The War Of Propaganda.” While Islamic fundamentalist sermons are often referred to in the media, few people have actually read what is being said. Suffice it to say the rhetoric makes Jerry Falwell sound like Barbra Streisand. The site’s treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides an example.

The establishment of a Palestinian state, says one sermon, “is an old and fruitless plan that aims at keeping the Palestinians engaged, but …the Israelis are not serious in giving the Palestinians the right of a separate state.” It adds: Bringing up these old Israeli ideas increases the suffering of our nation…the Israelis only want to stop our resistance and continue their occupation…It is extremely dangerous to back a call for a Palestinian state according to a plan which deprives the Palestinians from returning to their areas….”

The sermon asks: “How long are we going to be made forcibly subservient? When are we going to rise up against the evil of the enemy? …Who can believe that a small number of these ‘brothers of monkeys and pigs’ (Jews) are making the entire Muslim nation suffer?”

The sermon calls for continued Jihad -- “Jihad is the language of power even if it means small stones and rocks” -- and lays out a four-point plan for rescuing the Palestinians from the Israelis and their fellow conspirators.

First, it declares, Muslims must “be sincere in our intention and know that the only purpose of Jihad is to exalt the supremacy of Allah's religion….” Second, Muslims should “foster patience and piety, since Allah is with those who observe patience and adhere to piety.” Third, Muslims must “intelligently evaluate our strength, bearing in mind that…arrogant pride without reliance on Allah is a cause for defeat….” Fourth, Muslims must “use military arms which utilize state-of-the-art technology.”

The sermon inveighs equally against Christians for collaborating with Jews to retain control of Palestinian lands. Says the sermon: “It is known that the Jews are but a small band…so who was it that protected them? It was their brothers, the Christians who are more Zionists then the Zionists themselves, and more Jews than the Jews. They are the leaders of the New World order. The masters of the world after the period of the cold war as they call it…Jewish hearts in Christian skins….”

The peace process, the sermon concludes, “is nothing but a change to the Zionist plan to control the world and especially the Islamic regions. The plan simply has changed from the idea of establishing the greater state of Israel to another idea because the Jews found themselves forced to change that old idea of the Jewish State. This is because fifty years after establishing the Jewish State, they discovered that they are a community full of contradictions and a strange phenomenon in the middle of surroundings full of enmity.”

The sermon cautions against any dialog with the Israelis: “Negotiations are the introduction to submission and it is benumbing the Muslim nations... The last hour will not come until the Muslims fight against the Jews…As soon as the Muslim Nation raises the banner of Islam and revives its practice of the religion like that of the first generations, the Jews and their supporters will be like dead rats.”

The sermon concludes: “The United States will not protect you…Israel backed the United States to launch this dirty war against Muslims and the Islamic movement world wide. The United States used the most destructive bombs against Afghanistan, and raised close to thirty-seven billion dollars in the war against Islam. The United States vetoes any decision at the United Nations related to helping the Palestinians, so how can we expect the United States to help us and be fair with us? “

The Internet contains numerous Islamic websites that are informative, moderate and reasoned. One of the best is www. The web also contains many Israeli, Jewish and Zionist websites whose contents similarly span the religious and political spectrum from warlike to conciliatory.

But the more inflammatory of these sites represent an egregious disservice to the religious faiths they purport to represent. They make peace an ever more distant dream.

About the writer: William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration.