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A Saudi official has condemned a radical US Republican presidential candidate's recent comment that the best way to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on America would be to threaten to retaliate by bombing the Islamic holy sites, Mecca and Medina.
Abdul-Mohsen Al-Sheik, head of Mecca's municipal council, said he was disappointed that the Republican Party did not issue an apology for
Representative Tom Tancredo's remarks.
"Neither ... Tancredo nor anyone else can strike the Kaaba in Mecca," Al-Sheik said in a statement released late Monday. The Kaaba is a cube-shaped stone structure draped in black cloth that Muslims around the world face during daily prayers. Muslims believe Abraham built it.
"If this candidate had a minimum knowledge of history, then this site would be holy for him before it being holy for Muslims because no adherent to heavenly religions doesn't know Abraham and (his son) Ishmael," he added.
Earlier this month, Tancredo told about 30 people at a town hall meeting in the state of Iowa that he believes a nuclear terrorist attack on the US could be imminent and that the US needs to hurry up and think of a way to stop it.
"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. Because that's the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they otherwise might do," said the Colorado Republican, whose bid for the White House is considered unlikely to succeed.
Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia, are Islam's holiest cities. All able-bodied Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lives. Islam is the only religion that can be practiced in the kingdom.
The US State Department has distanced itself from Tancredo's comments.
"It is absolutely outrageous and reprehensible for anyone to suggest attacks on holy sites, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish or those of any other religion," deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.