Egypt Continuing To Promote Incitement To Hatred Against Christians & Jews In Quran Commentary
October 26, 2007

New York — Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid ($2.1 billion per year, almost identical to Israel at $2.4 billion), is continuing to promote hatred against Christians and Jews, as evidenced by a popular Quran commentary published in Egypt, designed for children and widely in use. The commentary, first published in 1997, has been reprinted four times and translated into several languages, including Indonesian, Malaysian, and Turkish. Its content was examined by four Islamic scholars, approved by the Al-Azhar Academy of Islamic Research and its introduction was in fact co-written by the president of Egypt’s Quranic schools and an Islamic expert at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Ahmad ‘Issa Al-Ma’sarawi. According to a recent article in the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousef by Asma Nassar, the popular Quran commentary for children contains virulent incitement against Christians and Jews, and calls on both children and adults to fight them. Nassar’s critical article provides details about the commentary, which include the following:

  • The interpretation of the Al-Fatiha Sura [the first Sura of the Quran], states that [the expression] ‘those who earn Thine [ i.e., Allah’s] anger’ refers to the Jews, and [the expression] ‘those who go astray’ refers to the Christians.

  • The Quranic verses, ‘Forgive them, and overlook [their misdeeds], for Allah loveth those who are kind [5:13]’; ‘And if the enemy inclines towards peace, then incline towards it and trust in Allah, for He is all-hearing and all-knowing [8:61]’ are repudiated by reference the ‘Verse of the Sword,’ which says: ‘Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Latter Day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book [ i.e. among the Christians and Jews], until they pay the jizya [the Islamic poll tax on non-Muslims] and they are in a state of subjection [9:29].’ [According to the book], peace and reconciliation agreements [with Christians and Jews] have been forbidden since this verse was revealed.

  • The Quranic verse, ‘Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know’ — is interpreted to mean that “Allah the Almighty told the believers — both young and old — to set out and fight for the sake of Allah.”

  • The Quranic verse ‘O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey’s end’ is interpreted to mean, “Allah commanded the believers to wage jihad against the infidels by [fighting them] with the sword, and to wage jihad against the hypocrites by imposing upon them the punishments and constraints mandated for those who violate the commands of Islam…”

    Asma Nassar concludes, “The expected consequence of this [book] is that, in future, thousands of young children will be willing to blow themselves up [in terrorist operations] against [non-Muslims]. This is the danger [that this book represents]. [The book’s aim] is not to interpret verses, but to deliberately instill children with ideas that incite [to extremism]. This is evident from its deliberate ignoring of other verses… that reflect the true [face of] Islam, which does not discriminate among the followers of the monotheistic religions but [calls for] brotherhood among them…” ( Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), September 21, 2007, translation courtesy of Middle East Media Research Institute, October 23, 2007).

Vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli commentary can be found across the closely controlled Egyptian media, including those outlets that are government-controlled. Egyptian television produced in 2002-2003 a 40-part series, ‘Rider Without a Horse,’ dramatizing the Tsarist anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which depicts Jews murdering a gentile child to use his blood in the Passover matzah, one of history’s longest blood libels against the Jewish people. Egypt refused to ban the series, despite protests from the U.S., Israel, other countries and Jewish groups. The series was defended by much of the Egyptian, including government-supported press (see Middle East Media Research Institute report, November 2, 2002).

Unsurprisingly, Egyptians have one of the highest rates of anti-Israeli feeling in the Middle East. 92% of Egyptians were found in a November 2006 poll to regard Israel as an enemy state, despite the peace treaty between the two countries that has been in force since 1979. Only 2% of Egyptians regarded Israel as a friend of Egypt. In contrast, Egyptians rate most highly Saudi Arabia, Libya, the Palestinian Authority, Sudan and Syria, regimes that are all undemocratic, deeply repressive, and which have engaged in terrorism against non-Muslims ( Yediot Achronot, November 1, 2006).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “There are many aspects of Israel and America’s relations with Egypt that are mystifying and cause for concern, but this Egyptian incitement to religious hatred and hostility towards Israel, Jews and Christians is one that should make the Bush Administration and the Olmert government pause and think. The incitement to hatred and murder in Muslim societies is one of the most profound causes of the Islamist war upon Israel, the U.S. and the non-Muslim world in general. Can it really be in the American national interest to fund and support the Egyptian regime when it permits this to happen? Israel and the U.S. should have been pressuring Egypt to stop its promotion of incitement at the top of their agenda. Instead, they largely ignore it.

“Egypt simply does not merit American support and over $2 billion in annual U.S. aid if it refuses to behave like an ally and work towards the ending of terrorism in its region and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it.”

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