The Muslim community in the UK is rallying around Saudi dissident, Professor Muhammad al-Mass’ari, in the face of intensified pressure on the British Home Secretary to deport him following statements made in the aftermath of last month’s bombing of the US military accommodation block in Saudi Arabia, a Muslim weekly, Q-News reported.
Critics are demanding a revocation of al-Mass’ari’s four year temporary permission to stay, after he declined to denounce the attack, which left 19 American servicemen dead and over two hundred others injured.
Al-Mass’ari refused to condone or condemn the bombing, telling the BBC radio that the bombers had an "intellectually strong" case in trying to oust foreign troops, whom increasing numbers of Saudis are coming to view as an occupying force. His statements added fuel to fire, coming only a fortnight after decontextualised and mistranslated articles on the Middle East peace process in his opposition newsletter were used to accuse him of anti-semitism.
On a visit to Saudi Arabia early this month, British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, reassured the regime that al-Mass’ari remained an unwelcome guest whose views on the Dhahran bombing were "pretty Neanderthal."
Professor al-Mass’ari has refused to cow to the renewed threats, patently designed to intimidate him into silence. "To condemn the bombing would have been to admit that it was a criminal act, which it can’t be because there is an Islamic point of view for it", he told Q-News in London. "Criminal acts are only those upon which all Muslim scholars are agreed."
Al-Mass’ari denounced the equating of the bombing with terrorist incidents such as last year’s nerve gas attack on a Tokyo subway by a doomsday cult, and the bombing of the federal government building in Oklahoma, USA.
"There’s no such parallel. This was an attack against forces invited by an illegitimate regime, one not democratically accountable and sanctioned by popular vote or any parliament," he said. "Ever more for us, the mere existence of a non-Muslim force in a Muslim country under its own flag is unacceptable. It violates the sovereignty of God. It is an absolute principle."
At a recent press conference, al-Mass’ari denounced the tactics of the "Zionist lobby" seeking to have him deported. Expressing his "deepest sympathy for the families of the victims", he hoped that the tragedy will be "an eye-opener for them and other families of servicemen stationed in the Arabian peninsula about the illegitimate nature of such a presence and the dangers associated with it for them".
Muslim groups in Britain backed al-Mass’ari and joined him in condemning what they say is an orchestrated effort to blackguard his cause, and by extension other Muslim struggles. The acclaimed physics professor has been an unwelcome guest since he arrived in Britain three years ago, not least because his presence has served to highlight the government’s link with the repressive Saudi regime.
Source: Q-News, London.
Muslimedia - April 1996-August 1996