Following are excerpts from an interview with former Saudi information minister Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani, which aired on Iqra TV on May 25, 2008.
Interviewer: How come calls for dialogue with [the West] were only made following 9/11?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The main reason is that we have inadvertently given in to this accusation, and accepted the fact that 9/11 was pinned on us, as if Islam calls for such a thing, but when acts worse than 9/11 were perpetrated by Christians and Jews...
Interviewer: Such as?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Attacks within America itself... Why wasn’t the attack on the White House labeled a “Christian” or “Jewish” attack? We’ve been dragged into accepting that 9/11 was an Islamic attack. This group [Al-Qaeda] carried it out, and unlike this group, we do not sanction the killing of any human being, because according to the Koran and the guidance of the Prophet, we are not allowed to harm any dhimmi [non-Muslim living under Muslim rule], as long as there is a covenant between us. We have accepted the blame...
Interviewer: Who has?
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: The Islamic world has accepted the blame, and apologized by saying: “We are sorry for what Islam did.” Islam did not do this! Why don’t you say that it was carried out by a group that made a mistake, like the men and women among you who make mistakes every day? Why do you pin this on Islam, as if the religion of Islam calls for terrorism, which is absolutely untrue. We were dragged into this, and then they began attacking us, people with vested interests started maligning Islam, and we’ve begun to give in. So we had no choice but to declare a “Jihad” that includes dialogue with the other side, and to explain the facts accurately, so they would know what Islam is all about, what the Koran is, and who the Prophet is.
The [Judeo-Christian] religion is monotheistic. They did not create it. This religion was sent down to Jesus and Moses...
Interviewer: But Islam got rid of it, in order to remain all on its own.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: It was not Islam that got rid of it. It was caused by the contamination that occurred in this religion. They changed, altered, and distorted their holy books, and Islam came to rectify this. Islam has not changed a thing in the teachings of Moses.
Interviewer: So one of the basic principles of this dialogue is to accept that the [Jews and Christians] have a religion.
Muhammad Abduh Al-Yamani: Yes, and we respect this religion, but we say to them: “You’ve changed it, and you know that the books you have are not the divine gospel and the divine Torah. You have changed them. You yourselves admit that your books were written by priests and others who altered them. We want to bring you back to the original religion.”