by Waseem Shehzad (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 38, No. 7, Ramadan, 1430)
American ‘televangelists’ (missionaries or preachers who reach large audiences by television) are able to influence public opinion heavily; unfortunately they tend to be not the most honest people. Since September 11 last year, televangelists and zionists have launched yet another campaign against Islam and Muslims. Their task is the easier because since September 2001 only an uncritical and self-pitying mixture of anger and jingoistic patriotism has been permitted in the press and media of the US, supposedly a bastion of freedom of speech. Muslims and Islam have been targets for decades, but recent outpourings from these groups are increasingly dangerous because they are setting the stage for conflict whose repercussions will be felt far and wide.
The US has a host of Christian fundamentalists, among them Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. Some of them have already discredited: both Baker and Swaggart have been convicted of adultery; the former spent several years in jail, the latter simply went off air to save himself from further ridicule and disgrace. Falwell, who leads the pompously-named groupMoral Majority, which has a minuscule following, has made crude remarks about Islam and Muslims, and recently even about Rasool-Allah (saw), was convicted in the early eighties of fraud. Through his television programmes, he collected some US$3 million for starving children in Africa. An audit of accounts by the USInternal Revenue Service (IRS) found that less than $300,000 had been sent to Africa.
Falwell’s latest outrage is calling the Prophet (saw) a "terrorist" during a CBS programme that was first aired on September 30 and then repeated on October 6. There were protest riots in Srinagar on October 7 in which several people were injured. On Friday October 11 there were protests in Bombay. Hindu fundamentalists attacked the Muslims’ procession: police used tear gas and fired live ammunition; at least five people were killed and scores injured. A few days later Bal Thakerey, a member of the ruling BJP, said that Hindus should rename India "Hindurashtra" (‘land of the Hindus’); if the Muslims do not like it, they should go to Pakistan, according to him.
There is a strange alliance between Christian fundamentalists and hardcore zionists. Each party is using the other to advance its own agenda. The Christian fundamentalists believe they must support Israel because this will hasten the return of the Messiah, who will then establish the Kingdom of God and all the Jews will be massacred. The zionists are willing to accept the Christian fundamentalists’ support to fund their campaign to steal the Palestinians’ land. The fundamentalists collect large sums of money for the zionists’ land-theft. Ehud Olmert, the zionist mayor of Occupied Jerusalem, has appointed Pat Robertson to co-chair an organisation of pro-Israel Christian fundamentalists to raise money for Olmert’s New Jerusalem Fund, according to Ha’aretz (October 11). In a recent appearance on Fox News Robertson insulted the Prophet (saw) using foul language. This is now becoming standard practice among zionists and fundamentalist Christians.
The Christian-zionist alliance emerged in the late 1970s with the rise of Menachem Begin to power in Israel. Begin himself was on the "most wanted" list of terrorists in the forties, when he led the Irgun Gang. Begin was involved in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in which some 90 people, most of them British, were killed. Since its formal emergence the zionist-Christian alliance has become very strong. In the US, despite claims that religion and politics are kept separate, the Chrisitian fundamentalists are actively involved in politics. They have financed many candidates’ campaigns and, with George W. Bush in the White House, have an inside track in government. So it is not surprising that Bush sent a message of support for Israel to the fundamentalists’ rally outside the White House on October 11. This was the coalition’s annual "Road to Victory" conference. There was also a message from Ariel Sharon.
The Christian fundamentalists’ uncritical support of Israel has not gone unchallenged by other Church leaders. Jim Winkler, general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, has said that fundamentalist Christians are ignoring their bonds with fellow Palestinian Christians. He said: "I am here to tell the American people that the comments of Rev. Falwell and others on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes are not representative of American Christianity." Winkler spoke through Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition of Protestant and Catholic organizations.
Another critic was Tony Blankley, an editorial writer for the Washington Times. Writing on October 16, Blankley described Falwell’s apology as "curious" and quoted what the televangelist said: "I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an interview for the Sept. 30 edition of CBS’s 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims. I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim."
Referring to the deaths of five Muslims in India, Blankley wrote: "If the casualty list caused by Mr. Falwell’s idiotic and repulsive statement is limited to five, we will be very lucky. His statement was bad biblical history and appallingly worse politics." He went on: "Not only was Mr. Falwell’s statement foolish and hurtful, but his apology was incredible. ‘I intended no disrespect.’ Of course he did," wrote Blankley.