The Secretary General of the Muslim World League (MWL) has been accused of making antisemitic statements in a report recently released by a Washington, D.C. think-tank.
Dr. Mohammad al-Issa has been a prominent supporter of Muslim-Jewish understanding and has been recognised for his contribution in the fight against antisemitism, even receiving in June the first prize awarded by one organisation to a Muslim leader. During the ceremony, Dr. al-Issa said: “We must rebuild the bridges of dialogue and the bonds of partnership between our communities. Since taking over the MWL, it has been my mission to fight the forces of hatred and violence.” Dr al-Issa has also led a group of representatives from the MWL in a historic visit to Auschwitz, in which he condemned Holocaust denial.
However, the Institute of Gulf Affairs claims that Dr al-Issa made antisemitic comments on a Saudi radio programme dating back to June 2014. When these remarks first aired he was serving as Saudi Arabia’s Justice Minister. Dr. al-Issa reportedly stated that Jews have “harsh hearts, harsh as stones, even harsher”, that “Jews distorted the Torah” and that Jews are on the same “deviant” path as their ancestors.
A spokesperson for the MWL said that the organisation had not been aware of such statements, however staff were “aware of determined efforts in recent months by a small, Washington-based group to sully Dr al-Issa’s groundbreaking interfaith work with leading Jewish organisations.”
It is unclear whether Dr al-Issa still holds these alleged views or whether his recent interfaith work reflects a positive change in his stance.
The report further claims that Saudi military magazines and educational texts contain antisemitic, anti-Christian and other discriminatory messages.