20 Muslim nations ban U.S. religious workers
Yet State Department allows entry to 100s of Muslim clerics each year

Posted: August 15, 2008
2:25 am Eastern


A new congressional study has found that more than 20 Muslim nations deny entry to American and other foreign religious workers, WND has learned, even as the U.S. State Department grants entry to hundreds of clerics from their countries each year.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and most other Middle Eastern countries still refuse to offer religious visas, they and deny entry to U.S. clergy as official policy, according to a report by the Law Library of Congress, the foreign legal research arm of the U.S. Congress. In a shocker, U.S. allies Afghanistan and Iraq also made the list of religious refuseniks.

"Of this group, the vast majority constitute Arab or Muslim states," said Wendy Zeldin, senior legal research analyst for the Library of Congress.

"Since Islam prohibits proselytism by other religions, (We must reach out to them by other means) foreign religious workers will in effect be denied entry to conduct religious work," Zeldin wrote in the three-page report, a copy of which was obtained by WND.

At the same time, Washington routinely issues R-1 religious visas to clerics from the Middle East, including jihadi hotbeds Saudi Arabia and Egypt, even though an alarming number of foreign imams have been suspects in terrorism investigations since 9/11.

The Department of Homeland Security, in fact, considers visiting imams as non-threatening as Buddhist monks. Screening procedures call for both visitors to be treated as the same level of security risk at the border.

Also, R-2 visas are routinely granted to relatives of foreign imams.

By comparison, Saudi religious police recently accused more than a dozen foreign Christians living in the kingdom of worshipping in their homes and ordered them deported.

The deportation conflicts with the message stated just weeks earlier by Saudi King Abdullah, who called for interfaith dialogue and held a summit in Spain with a representatives from several major religions.

"Deporting Christians for worshipping in their private homes shows that King Abdullah's speech is mere rhetoric and his country is deceiving the international community about their desire for change and reconciliation," International Christian Concern President Jeff King said.

King Abdullah's meetings which drew about 200 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism and other religions had to be held outside of Saudi Arabia, because, as one journalist observed, "the mere fact that rabbis would be openly invited to the kingdom, a country where in principle Jews are not permitted to visit, would have constituted a turning point."

Some U.S. lawmakers say the long list of Muslim nations denying non-Muslim religious workers is eye-opening.

"This gives us a better picture of what countries discriminate against us based on religion," said Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., who instructed the Congressional Research Service to compile the list (see below).

Myrick, who co-chairs of the House Anti-Terrorism/Jihad Caucus, said she is troubled by the one-sided exchange of religious visitors, and plans to introduce a bill to restrict R-1/R-2 religious visas for imams who come from countries that do not allow reciprocal visits by non-Muslim clergy.

Nations not offering religious visas & denying or restricting entry to religious workers:

I. No religious visas, entry denied to foreign religious workers:
(Blue countries have people which log on to our website)

North Korea
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

II. No religious visas, entry allowed, but with restrictions:

Solomon Islands

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