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Has Saudi Arabia announced it'll build 200 mosques for those fleeing fighting in Syria and Iraq, but won't accept any refugees?

Example claim: "Saudi Arabia Offers to Build 200 Mosques for Syrians in Germany", Frontpage Mag

Why will the Saudis build 200 mosques for these "refugees", yet won't take a single one in?

  • it looks like the story originates at ad diyar as quoted in this article faz.net which is what frontpagemag.com is citing as it's source. Maybe if some one knows a little Arabic they can check the story at Ad Diyar because google translate is doing an awful job which may be why I couldn't find anything about it there. – James Sep 10 '15 at 14:13
  • @James, I'll check the article on addiyar. It's a Lebanese newspaper (that I know), but I believe addiyar is biased. – George Chalhoub Sep 10 '15 at 15:01
  • @GeorgeChalhoub I looked them up on Wikipedia before making my comment and they certainly are portrayed that way, but they are where OPs sources lead back to. Maybe I should have linked the information about the paper from Wikipedia, though wasn't sure if it was relevant since I wasn't even able to find the source article at all. Thanks for taking the time to look. – James Sep 10 '15 at 15:53
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    @James: You were right, Addiyar originated this. Updated my answer. – George Chalhoub Sep 10 '15 at 16:32
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    Note that as a general rule, only true democracies tend to end up with refugees (states bordering the source are an exception). This is because, A) even refugees don't want to go to poor non-democratic states, and B) the last thing a wealthy non-democratic state wants is a lot of potential rebels in country with no income, no property and way too much time on their hands. – RBarryYoung Sep 11 '15 at 12:01
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This question has two claims:

  1. Saudi Arabia refuses to accept any Syrian refugees.
  2. Saudi Arabia announced it'll build 200 mosques for Syrian refugees in Germany.

Claim 1: Saudi Arabia refuses to accept any Syrian refugees.

According to a report by Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization focused on human rights with over 7 million members, Saudi Arabia offered no formal resettlement slots to Syrians by the end of 2014.

enter image description here

Furthermore, since the civil war broke out in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, that is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide, has published data showing that only four applications have been "recognized". (Unrecognized applications do not earn an approval nor a rejection; they go directly to the trash can.):

enter image description here

The Financial Times analyzed the data and said:

None was formally rejected, but unsuccessful applications were “otherwise closed”. That compares with tens of thousands of successful applications for asylum in Germany and Sweden.

Claim 2: Saudi Arabia announced it'll build 200 mosques for Syrian refugees in Germany.

Among the news articles who published these news:

(Google Translate) Instead, says the Lebanese newspaper al Diyar, Saudi Arabia offer for the Muslim refugees who are received in Germany, the construction of 200 mosques in. Although the newspaper writes that should be done in accordance with the Federal Government.

Therefore, it seems that piece of biews was originated by Al Diyar (a Lebanese newspaper owned by the controversial Charles Ayoub). Ibtimes.com referenced Al Diyar too.

Going through Al-Diyar's official website, I found an article entitled:

Original: اللاجئون في المانيا يطالبون بـ 200 مسجد والسعودية مستعدة للتمويل

Translation: Refugees in Germany demand 200 mosques and Saudi Arabia is ready to fund

If you look through the article, you will find that it is extremely short (one sentence):

enter image description here

Translation: After the arrival of the number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Germany, 800 thousand Syrian and a half million Iraqis. The Saudi "committee" has demanded the committee chieftains of Muslim refugees build 200 mosque for Muslims in Germany. Muslim sheikhs said that Saudi Arabia was ready to build 200 mosques in Germany for refugees, subject to approval by the German authorities, but Municipalities Act imposes a referendum on the establishment of a mosque or not, as well as [restrictions?] on dawn and evening speaker broadcasts as they constitutes a nuisance to non-Muslims under the German law. Saudi Arabia are willing to donate USD 200,000,000 or more according to the announcement of the Emir of Mecca in the name of King Salman.

The article has no source, whatsoever. Moreover, Al Diyar's reputation in Lebanon is that it is biased and politically aligned with Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria:

Charles Ayoub, editor-in-chief of Al-Diyar, newspaper generally aligned with Syria and Hezbollah, published a front-page account in which he described accepting financial assistance in return for taking a middle line in his paper’s coverage of two political alliances, the March 14th movement (Western-backed, anti-Syria) and the March 8th movement (pro-Syria).

The "pro-Hezbollah" bias of Aldiyar would make the source unreliable since the relationship between Hezbollah (the Shia) and Saudi Arabia (mostly Sunna) is pretty tense. Hezbollah's leader Nasrallah has recently sent a message to Saudi Arabia saying "enough is enough" referring to the Shiite-Sunni war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Until further evidence is found, we cannot determine if this claim is true or not.

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    I was expecting a false claim by non-Muslims who don't like Islam, but didn't consider Shiites who don't like Sunni Islam being behind the claim! – Andrew Grimm Sep 10 '15 at 22:09
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    Just a side note, Charles Ayoub (of Al Diyar) has been responsible for many false news regarding this issue. Some examples: Germany is sending planes to Lebanon to take refugees. Sweden and Norway sending ships to Egypt to take refugees. Syrian government is taking the houses of refugees. (goo.gl/MgF9W5, goo.gl/OnRXKF, goo.gl/ydbMQd, goo.gl/G7i0HY, goo.gl/ofGgB7) – Adi Sep 11 '15 at 8:59
  • While this may be obvious (at least to myself :), you may want to explicitly explain why "pro-Hezbollah bias" would make the source unreliable as far as information painting KSA in negative light. – user5341 Sep 11 '15 at 19:18
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    Regarding claim #1: Saudi Arabia may have accepted very few refugees, but they claim they have accepted more than 500.000 Syrians since 2011 with the right of residency and work. I do not know Arabic, but it might be explained in this link: english.alarabiya.net/en/webtv/reports/2015/09/08/… – Finn Årup Nielsen Sep 12 '15 at 15:41
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    Last week the Saudi ambassador or consul (or something) to Norway was interviewed for a Norwegian paper, and argued that although SA didn't accept any Syrian refugees, they'd accepted a lot of Syrian guest-workers with their families. – Baard Kopperud Sep 12 '15 at 22:56
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I thought I should give what evidence there is from sources from Saudi Arabia.

Claim 1: Saudi Arabia refuses to accept any Syrian refugees.

Saudi Arabia has hosted around 2.5 million Syrians since the beginning of the crisis in that country in 2011, the Foreign Ministry has said. In a statement issued to SPA, the ministry said the Syrians have been leading a decent and normal life in the Kingdom like other expatriates. “The Kingdom does not deal with Syrian expats like refugees. They are living in a normal environment not in special camps.”

According to the ministry, the Syrians have been granted legal residence permits and full freedom to travel inside the country. “Moreover, they are allowed to study in Saudi schools as per the royal order issued in 2012.

A total of 100,000 Syrians are registered in public schools,” the ministry clarified, reacting to wrong reports about the Kingdom’s role in tackling the Syrian refugees crisis. “All Syrians in the Kingdom receive free medical treatment. They are allowed to work in the private sector like other expatriates,” the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia has spent $700 million to help Syrian refugees, according to figures made available during the Third Intentional Conference of Donors in Kuwait in March this year, the ministry said. [1]

The article specifically notes that they are not treated like refugees. This, aside from any political bias, may explain the numbers in various charts being spread.

From US News:

Saudi Arabia said it has taken in about 2.5 million Syrians on religious and humanitarian grounds in the years since the country's conflict began and has offered residency to hundreds of thousands, as it sought to rebut suggestions that oil-rich Gulf states should do more to address the plight of refugees fleeing civil war. [2]

From the official Saudi press Twitter account: ِArabic tweet [4]:

مصدر مسؤول بوزارة الخارجية: المملكة استقبلت منذ اندلاع الأزمة في سوريا ما يقارب المليونين ونصف المليون مواطن سوري،

English tweet [3]:

Official Source: #KSA received since beginning of the Syrian crisis, nearly 2.5 million Syrians and gave them full freedom of movement

[1] http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/805236

[2] http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/09/12/saudi-says-it-has-taken-in-25m-syrians-since-conflict-began

[3] https://twitter.com/spagov/status/642424989740720128

[4] https://twitter.com/spagov/status/642413870074630145

Claim 2: Saudi Arabia announced it'll build 200 mosques for Syrian refugees in Germany.

I could not find any evidence from any Saudi sources regarding this. The main sources are a Lebanese article, an article in German quoting the Lebanese article and articles in English quoting the article in German.

  • Good thing about not counting them as refugees is it prevents any kind of third-party statistics and disclosure of admission criteria. – spectras Sep 13 '15 at 0:49
  • @spectras Well we can't be absolutely sure of what either side claims. Given your sarcasm, it seems like you have doubts, specifically regarding the Saudi side of things. I would suggest you go yourself to see. Events have multiple perspectives. To assume one is correct without knowing the other side is unjust and biased. – user16382 Sep 15 '15 at 13:08
  • As it turns out, I will be there in a couple of months. But that's not the point. The point is, foreign worker is a status that has much less guarantees than refugee. For instance, the country can choose to revoke the status anytime and send people back to Syria. Or merely threaten to do so to have people accept conditions they would normally not. Maybe they do/will, maybe not, in any case trying to pass foreign worker status for refugee status is dubious at best. – spectras Sep 15 '15 at 14:52
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    @spectras I'm not sure what specific status they have assigned them internally. Nevertheless, they see it as a step above treating them like refugees. This just goes back to whether or not they will do the right thing in the future. The whole point of this post was to deal with the misconception that they have done absolutely nothing for the Syrian people. What they plan to do in the future is their decision and we can only wait and examine carefully what the world does. – user16382 Sep 15 '15 at 15:52
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    I'm honestly surprised how no one seems to question how many countries are painting themselves as torchbearers of righteousness and good given their histories. – user16382 Sep 15 '15 at 15:54

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