Dubai Provides Pulpit For Muslim Clerics Who Mock 9/11

Hailed as a tolerant and cosmopolitan city, Dubai's officials sponsor clerics who ridicule the Charlie Hebdo massacre and praise Osama bin Laden

Jul 02, 2015 at 6:01 PM ET

Two Muslim clerics who have openly demonized Jews and Christians, mocked the 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks and praised Osama bin Laden will be the featured speakers at an event sponsored by the government of Dubai this weekend, Vocativ has learned.

Dr. Omar Abdelkafi will deliver a lecture on the “Oasis of Hope” at the Dubai Ramadan Forum on Saturday, July 4. In an address earlier this year, Abdelkafi, an Egyptian cleric, characterized 9/11 as a “comedy film” and that the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last January was its “sequel.” The preacher has also drawn criticism for advocating that Muslims should refuse to shake hands with Christians or share sidewalks with them.

On Sunday, Dr. Zakir Naik, known for his repeated rebukes against the United States and for asserting that 9/11 was an “inside job” orchestrated by Jews and George W. Bush, will headline the event, which lists the government of Dubai as a co-sponsor. A televangelist from India, Naik famously said that he would support Osama bin Laden, so long as he was “terrorizing America the terrorist.” During the same speech, he added: “Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

That Dubai, a global hub for tourism and commerce, would openly sponsor two controversial religious leaders cripples its image as a tolerant, cosmopolitan city, says David Weinberg. He’s a scholar with the Foundation For Defense of Democracies, a right-of-center thinktank in Washington DC, who has written extensively on the subject of Muslim clerics and their rhetoric. Weinberg adds that it may also undermine a recent pact made between the United States and its Gulf allies, including the United Arab Emirates, which calls for “repudiate [the] hateful ideology” of “violent extremists.”

“Providing perks from the ruling family to preachers who promote the hateful ideology of religious bigotry,” seems to contradict that commitment, Weinberg said. 

But the event isn’t the first time the city and its government have sponsored clerics with extremist views. In 2014, The Dubai International Holy Quran Award hosted Saad al-Ateeq, a Saudi preacher who has called on Allah in sermons to “destroy” Christians, Alawites, Shia, and Jews. Last month, Saleh al-Moghamsy, a cleric who said that bin Laden died with sanctity and honor, headlined another Dubai lecture series.

Read More:

Preaching Hate And Sectarianism In The Gulf (Foreign Policy)
Saudi Award Goes To Muslim Televangelist Who Harshly Criticizes U.S. (New York Times)