A Syrian cleric who called Jews the “worst enemies of God” and Islam and “a hotbed of vices and evils” has been granted a U.S. visa by the State Department. He is currently traveling to 11 cities across America on a fund-raising tour.
Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi is called “an internationally-known Muslim scholar renowned for his scholarship of Islam.” According to Breitbart News, his “tour” is being sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC) and the Wylie, Texas-based Shaam Relief Foundation.
Nabulsi “has lent his formidable clerical authority to support human rights, tolerance, and respect for all,” according to a promotional announcement on the SAC website. However, when it comes to his “perceived enemies” he is not so tolerant.
Al-Nabulsi supports the killing of homosexuals, and endorses suicide bombings designed to kill innocent men, women, and children. He believes this is acceptable, especially in Israel because the Palestinians have an overwhelming disadvantage in fighting them. He likes to call them “martyrdom operations.”
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Al-Nabulsi wrote on his website, “All the Jewish people are combatants” acceptable as targets for attacks in Israel according to his “ruling on martyrdom operations in Palestine.”
Supposedly, his scope of fatwa is directed only at Israel. However, al-Nabulsi calls upon Muslims to fight violently against all who impose their culture and pornography, according to his Aug. 2006 sermon. He also claims that “according to Allah’s criterion, people can only be parted into two parties; a believer and a disbeliever.” Muslims recognize those who don’t follow the teaching of Islam as kafir, which means unbeliever, disbeliever, or infidel. A kafir represents all things unacceptable and offensive to their God and most of us know their religious text calls for Muslims to kill unbelievers.
Despite al Nabulsi’s radical views, the State Department issued him a visa. Government officials involved in the decision of who gets a visa told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT):
Under current policy, a foreign national applying for a U.S. visa who is known to have promoted jihad and suicide bombings would be ordinarily deemed ‘undesirable’ and denied a visa.
Breitbart reports that the State Department declined to comment other than to note that “visa records are confidential under U.S. law under the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Al-Nabulsi has already visited Spring Hill, Fla., near Tampa; Orlando; Charleston, W.Va.; Milwaukee; Paterson, N.J.; and Falls Church, Va. During the Tampa stop, Shaam Relief raised $65,000, according to the charity’s page. The cleric also took time while in Florida to pose for a photo with Hatem Fariz, who in 2006 pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide goods or services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
On Thursday in Paterson, N.J. al-Nabulsi spoke at the Islamic Center of Passaic County which is led by Mohamed Qatanani, who is fighting deportation efforts based on a 1993 arrest in Israel. Qatanani is an admitted member of Hamas and advocates for blasphemy laws. He says free speech in America does not give us the right to mock the holy things of Islam.
Al-Nabulsi has two more stops around Detroit this weekend. His tour ends on Jan. 25 in Dallas.
If all of this sounds surreal, the really crazy thing is that it’s happened before. In November, a similar fundraising tour featured Sheik Osama al-Rifai, who endorsed a coalition of jihadist groups called the Islamic Front. He helped raise $3.6 million for the Syrian Sunrise Foundation, which shares several board members with the SAC.