Louis Palme / Aug 25, 2008


The 2008 Olympics inspired and thrilled viewers all around the world.  The “One World One Dream” theme was played out over and over as competing athletes treated one another with respect and admiration.  For example, when the tanks of the Russian Federation invaded Georgia, their athlete representatives on the medal award stand gave each other a hug.  That dispute had nothing to do with the Olympics!


On the other hand, some other countries displayed some very mixed responses to the Olympic games, as will be shown below.  Just after the opening of the Olympics, the U.S. Congressional Research Service prepared a list of twenty-three countries who will not issue visas to foreign religious workers.  As Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) said, “This gives us a better picture of what countries discriminate against us based on religion.”   It is also a indisputable indicator of intolerance.  The countries are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.  With the exception of North Korea, all of these countries are Muslim.



So, how did these intolerant countries fare at the Olympics?   The following compilation shows the leading “tolerant” countries, China, and the twenty-two “intolerant” Muslim countries listed above in terms of medals awarded per million citizens. To counter the argument that athletics is a middle-class pursuit and that medals are a function of per capita income, the list also includes Jamaica – one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and Zimbabwe – one of the poorest countries in Africa.



Population (M.)

Olympic Medals


































South Korea












“The intolerant 22”





To put the data above into perspective, if the United States had earned medals at the same proportional rate as “the intolerant 22,” the US would have earned just eleven medals. So what would explain the significantly poor showing of  “the intolerant 22”?   While individual athletes work hard to compete in international sports, their best efforts can be thwarted or even undone by the society around them.  The remarks below, therefore, do not reflect on individual athletes  but the climate under which some are forced to compete.


1. Religious condemnation of the Olympics – The Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid interviewed on Al-Majd TV on August 10 said, “How come modern sports – especially women’s sports – involve the exposure of private parts?  . . . No exposure of women’s private parts on a global scale would make Satan happier than Olympic games that include women’s sports. . . . Football (soccer) leads to temptation. It is not an innocent sport.”   


2. Racial hatred of other competitors – Athletes are randomly selected for preliminary heats, but rarely will an athlete default because of the “luck of the draw.”  This year Iranian swimmer Mohammad Alirezaei was assigned to the fourth heat of the 100 meter breastroke, but was pulled from the match by the chiefs of the Iranian delegation because he was due to race against Israeli Tom Be’eri.   The official excuse given was that he suffered an “illness.”   Be’eri went on to set a new Israeli record.    In the 2004 Olympics in Athens an Iranian gold medal contender was pulled from a race which also involved an Israeli competitor.


3. Misogyny prevents women athletes from competing --  In the 2008 Olympics neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE allowed women to compete, even though there are many organized women’s sports leagues in the kingdom.  Earlier this year, Iranian rower Ramoneh Lazar was expelled from the national team after her ankles were seen inside her boat during a competition in Bangkok.   One valiant sprinter from Bahrain, Ruqaya Al Ghasara, competed in a full-body hijab and actually won her 200 meter heat.  Unfortunately, most Muslim women don’t even get a chance to compete.  By comparison, the total medals won by women exceeded those won by men in the top three countries (China, USA, Russia).




4.  Insha’allah attitude doesn’t leave much room for individual achievement --  Mohammad’s victories in the early expansion of Islam were due to Allah (See Surah 8:17). Today, the bounty of oil in the Middle East is taken as proof of Allah’s provision.  Who can exceed such success by his or her own efforts?  Western countries are driven by a work ethic which makes hard work and exertion noble.  Not so in the Middle East.  A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad says, “The plough brings submission into the house.”  (Another version says Muhammad pointed to a plough and said, "It does not enter a people's homestead except that Allah enters humiliation with it".)  In other words, the path of hard work is the path of slavery, servility, and humiliation. With this mind-set, it would be extremely difficult for an athlete to make the sacrifices required and put in the hours of effort needed to qualify for Olympic competition.  Then there is also the hadith of al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn, 1.4, which says, “The slightest bit of showing off in good works is as if worshipping others with Allah [an enormous offense].”


5. Sharia Law contradicts the Charter of the International Olympic Committee – Most of the Muslim countries listed above have adopted Sharia Law, to one extent or another, as the basis of their legal system.  The Olympic Charter forbids “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise.”   The following citations from the classic manual of Sharia Law, The Reliance of the Traveller, demonstrate the Muslim intolerance on those specific issues:


Race – “Para. m4.1 -- The following are not suitable matches for one another: 1) a non-Arab man for an Arab woman (O: because of the hadith that the Prophet said, ‘Allah has chosen the Arabs above others.’)”


Religion --  “Para. o24.2 – Legal testimony is only acceptable from a witness who is (e) religious (O: meaning upright) (A: and Muslim), for Allah Most High says, ‘Let those of rectitude among you testify.’  (Koran 65:2) and unbelief is the vilest form of corruption, as goes without saying.)”


“Para. o9.8 The caliph makes war on Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o11.4) – which is the significance of their paying it [in humility], not the money itself – while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax. . . . . “


Politics – “Para o25.3  If a caliph [a Muslim ruler] becomes a non-Muslim, alters the Sacred Law, or imposes reprehensible innovations while in office, then he loses his authority and need no longer be obeyed, and it is obligatory for Muslims to rise against him if possible, remove him from office, and install an upright [Muslim] leader in his place.”


Sex – “Para. p28.1 The Prophet said, (1) “Men are already destroyed when they obey women.”


After considering all of these impediments to Muslim athletes, what is perhaps more surprising than the poor athletic performance of “the intolerant 23” countries is that any of these countries even participated in the 2008 Olympics at all.


Since 1953, most of the countries in the “intolerant 22” have participated in an “Arab Olympics,” better known as the Pan-Arab Games.  They hold their “Olympics” roughly every four years just one year before the International Olympics event.  Only Arab (Muslim) countries are invited.  This too, is a sign of the depth of their intolerance – they are friends with their co-religionists but not with anyone else.   The “Arab Olympic Games” reflects the same approach adopted by these countries with regard to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   The Muslim countries’ Sharia Law denied many of those universal human rights, so the countries established their own, Islamic Declaration of Human Rights.   So much for One World One Dream.


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