(RNS) Concerned for the safety of U.S. citizens soon headed to Mecca, 27 Muslim-American groups are asking the State Department to better protect them from violence that has plagued those who have made the pilgrimage in the past.

A letter from the group sent Tuesday (Aug. 26) to Secretary of State John Kerry was prompted in part by a 2013 incident in which a group of Sunni Muslims from Australia threatened to kill and rape a group of Shiites from Michigan.

The letter reads:

“We urge you to take immediate action to protect American citizens who travel overseas to perform one of the five mandatory acts of their faith and ensure that Saudi Arabia addresses this urgent security matter in preparation for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.”

The pilgrimage to Islam’s most sacred place is required of all Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Mecca. The hajj takes place during the 12th month of the Islamic year and typically attracts 2 million or more faithful annually. This year it falls during the first week of October.

Last year, when the Michigan Muslims were attacked, neither Saudi nor U.S. authorities were responsive to their plight, said Mohamed Sabur of the Oakland-based Muslim Advocates, one of the groups that signed on to the letter.

U.S. Muslims on the hajj “need to know that the State Department has their backs,” Sabur said.

A State Department representative said in an email that the U.S. is committed to the protection of its citizens traveling or living abroad.

“We take seriously all reports of attacks or threats against U.S. citizens, including the reported attack on U.S. citizens during last year’s Hajj.”

The email statement continued: “While the U.S. does not have law enforcement personnel at the Hajj, our Embassy and Consulate General in Saudi Arabia are in close contact with their Saudi government counterparts. We urge all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register their location and contact information at https://step.state.gov/step.”

For most, the hajj is safe. But the huge gathering holds inherent risks, despite high-tech Saudi crowd control and anti-terrorism efforts, which include thousands of closed-circuit television cameras. The main danger in past years has been from stampedes: Between 1990 and 2004, more than 2,000 people were trampled to death on the hajj.

After last year’s attack, the Americans reported that Saudi authorities at first seemed ready to help, but then destroyed a video of the incident and otherwise made it clear that they would not follow up on the matter.

The Americans identified their attackers as Salafis — Sunnis who embrace a strict form of Islam that is widely practiced in Saudi Arabia.

The Americans also reported that the response from the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia was slow and disappointing.

“When they relied on the U.S. State Department, they didn’t come through, either,” said Sabur.

Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, said the Muslim-Americans’ request is “entirely fair.”

It’s “a central responsibility of the U.S. government to defend the rights of its citizens abroad, especially their right to religious freedom,” he said.

YS/MG END MARKOE

13 Comments

  1. It is impossible for the United States to provide protection for its own citizens who persist in traveling to a foreign setting that has been so long besieged with atrocious behavior because of religion. Mecca is not a part of the United States. It is up to other nations, especially those nations under religions that practice atrocities against their own and against others, to stop those atrocities in the name of justice, goodness, and decency which religion is supposed to support.

    When safety in the face of such expected religious atrocities is a fear or threat, the only solution is to not go to such places, not even Mecca, not even the Vatican, if just and respectful safety cannot be presumed.

    This nation’s founders were wise enough with their knowledge of history to realize that mixing religion and government was as volatile as mixing royalty with efforts to be a democracy. Protective separation of church and state is a natural, human right embedded in the very first clause of the First Amendment to our Constitution.

    That wise and vitally necessary separation has often been disregarded in this country in the past, each time with disastrous results. It is being disregarded more and more by many today, even in government, and that is preventing us from being a democracy, from being safe in many ways.

    Freedom of religion must be protected, and that includes freedom from religion. Individuals must mind their own affairs when it comes to religious beliefs. The United States was the first to constitute itself separate from religion. To finally achieve and maintain democracy, we must continue to pursue that separation honestly and thoroughly. We certainly must not involve ourselves in other nations where danger exists because of mixing religion with government. That is violently, expansively true throughout the Middle East.

    • Your understanding it wrong. what you said the last part about individuals is wrong .. The government cant seek to convert some one to any religion yet a individual can. because they have freedom to practice their religion ..

      its the government that cant put a political candidate . to any religious test
      a individual can put a candidate through any religious test they desire..

      government cant discriminate against divorcées or women or most any thing else individuals can. and do in their voting places all the time

    • I’m sympathetic to the non-Sunni or non-Wahabi people making the Hajj. But, short of asking Saudi Arabia to allow us to send armed guards with the those making the pilgrimage, I can’t see what Secretary Kerry is supposed to do. After all, our government hasn’t even gotten Saudi Arabia to stop it’s own citizens form being the main funders of every major terrorist group on the planet. Clearly, the Saudis are largely, as a people, donating to destroy the Us and the Western World, even if the Saudi Government doesn’t fund it formally. Given their oil power over us, and given that they don’t care at all what happens to the entire West, and given that they actually purged their country of all the houses of worship of the countless religions that used to exist there, it’s hard to see how they promise tolerance to anyone and make it believable. The world capital of underground financing of Sunni Islamic Hate is itself Saudi Arabia. Those few Muslims that don’t accept universal Sharia Law, and their number is small no matter how the media twists it, have yet to face what Saudi Arabia is. It is the author of 9/11, and it’s proxies the creators of the lame excuses Bush made for invading the Middle East and ruining it further. ISIS has support all among the Saudi people, and secretly, even within the Royal Family itself. What on earth could Kerry say that would cause a monster regime like this to suddenly “care deeply and warmly for the safety of its American brothers.” Wahbi-Salfism is the greatest Fascist movement the world has ever known since maybe the time of the Inquisition; so how on earth are they to treat us as buddies that they’ll lovingly watch over. If moderate non-Wahabi American Muslims go there, no one can protect them.

  2. How RIDICULOUS! Besides the basic fact that the culture of Islam (of which the Muslim religion is only a part) is contradictory to the fundamental principles America was founded on (i.e. at odds), it is NOT the responsibility of American taxpayers to pay for a the cultural practices that are foreign to this land (in spite of Obama’s claim that we owe Islamists for our country!?). Islamic citizens of America have actively participated in JIHAD against this country because it Islam is at odds with ALL other societies it comes into contact with! Now you ask to aid the enemy of Freedom!? ANYONE who hyphenates the name of America is NOT an American citizens, but only a benefitting (if antagonistic) inhabitant.

  3. So now these Muslim barbarians want the tax payers to pick up the tab for their vacations, providing security in other countries?

    These moronic nutcases can take a flying leap!

  4. Got it!

    America provide their security! We send John Kerry, Barack Obama, John Brennan, Valerie Jarrett, Michelle Obama and the rest of the dirtbags as the security detail. Weapons not provided since all of the above do not want anything to do with the 2nd. Amendment.

  5. rob,

    Story:
    State of Indiana
    A friend was working in a mall and saw three Muslim children playing near a fountain in the presence of their Muslim dad (two young boys and a young girl about seven or eight). The boys were getting wet. The girl tipped her head in to get it wet and her dad began “smacking her around.” My friend called security, and mall security came and spoke to the man.

    These are questions that American citizens should ask:
    We are taught to see the signs of abuse, especially in our neighborhood.

    If the dad is willing to do that to his daughter in a public place, what is he capable of at home?

    As citizens of America, should this be tolerated because the female is of a lesser status in the culture of the Islamic Religion/State?

    How will the government of the United States of America address this very obvious abuse?

    Where is there a separation of Religion and State in behaviors of this nature on America soil in the presence of American citizens where children are taught to NOT hit or hurt another (even before reaching age one)?

    Should the police have been notified as well, and information taken for police record, possibly even jail time or a steep fine?

    If we are to have a NO TOLERANCE “LAW” on the abuse of children, then don’t you think we need to be vigilant across the board?

    Peace and Love

  6. All these confusing questions become clear when one does these very difficult things: 1. Read the Torah and the Old Testament. The Koran, and it’s laws were largely plagiarized from there, and well as the New Testament too. But you need to stay heavy in Torah and Rabbinic law to see how similar Hadith and Sunnah and Sharia Law are. Mohammed believed in Judaism, and to some degree in Jesus, but he didn’t buy Christianity as a whole. So he blended the Torah and New Testament and then Arabized them. He believed Abrahamic Monotheism was true, but could not see the Arabs as submissive to other cultures, so the Koran was revealed to write Islam, backwards in time, so to speak, to start over with history and make it all Arab-Centric. Now, if you read any listing of Sharia Laws, and things like The Hamas Charter on the web, you’ll start to tune in to what’s up. Islam is about utter world domination, period. The media throws softball questions to Muslims that don’t get at the heart of the matter. If one says to a Muslim, “Should Sharia Law be the law of all the lands of earth?” they admit it should. Case closed. Yes, they’ll seem nice if an anxious reporter asks them if they love their own children and if they want peace. Sure they want peace and love their kids, but, on the part of the media and the Sunni Muslims, (not so much the other sects), it’s an evasion. Once anyone reads, as I have, the Koran twice through, it’s over, then it’s not a “negotiate to try to understand thing,” it’s a realization that the Scriptures of the Koran, The Torah and the Christian Bible are actually really horrible and really all of the same stock. Sunni-Wahabi Muslims only differ in that they really believe their scriptures and try to act them out in the real world. Jews and Christians are holding back from that, although, if ever the time comes that they can impose their scriptures on us, I want to promise you they will. However, since the Saudis started exporting the Salafi religion of the Sunnis, and combined it with political ambition, the world got hit with a power it can’t understand or even look at. Plus, non-Sunni Muslims, and liberal Muslims and even moderate Muslims are all utterly paralyzed with fear because word has gone out that if they speak out, the Sunni-Wahabis will off them. So, the media and the moderate Muslims are all frozen out of asking bold, serious questions. And thus, the reason that girl got knocked around is that the fellow already has it in his head that the world conquest is pretty much a done deal and it’s only a matter of time before we, with our weak wills enable them in order to try to appease them. So, forgetting that their world conquest could take another hundred years or more, and that he is in a semi-secular culture, he just did what Islam says he can, exercise utter power over all who annoy him in any way. You will notice that anytime on the internet that a Muslim starts to lose a debate, a threat will come out. They’ll start out all “we want peace,” but if they get to doing badly up there, then some form of threat warning comes out. Watch carefully.

  1. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  2. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  3. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment
  4. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.