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memri
March 18, 2002 No.
1

Press Release on Article in Saudi Government Daily:Jews Use Teenagers' Blood for 'Purim' Pastries

Following the publication of a two-part "Purim" blood libel in the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh (Saudi Government Daily: Jews Use Teenagers' Blood for 'Purim' Pastries), MEMRI has received several emails from readers who could not locate the articles on Al-Riyadh's Web site. The following URL addresses link directly to the articles

In the event that Al-Riyadh removes the articles from its Web site, MEMRI will provide a printed hard copy to any interested party.

Additionally, some readers forwarded MEMRI their correspondence with the Saudi embassy in the U.S. In its response to those who contacted the embassy regarding the articles, the Saudi embassy did not deny the appearance of the articles in Al-Riyadh, nor did it denounce their content. Rather, the embassy stated that Al-Riyadh "is not a Saudi government newspaper any more than The National Enquirer is a U.S. government newspaper," and that "Al-Riyadh is a small private newspaper."

In contrast to the Saudi embassy's response, some Muslim readers have contacted MEMRI to express their indignation at the content of the Al-Riyadh articles. One American Muslim published his denunciation on the Al-Riyadh Web site.

Al-Riyadh has been presented as a government-controlled or government-sponsored newspaper by leading international media outlets such as the BBC and AFP. In addition, some comments regarding the newspaper are warranted:

Firstly, the editor-in-chief of Al-Riyadh, Turki Al-Sudairi, is a member of the Al-Sudairi clan of the Saudi royal family.

Secondly, Al-Riyadh is a leading newspaper in Saudi Arabia. It is not a tabloid like the The National Enquirer.

Thirdly, the Web site of the Saudi monarch King Fahd includes a section in English (www.kingfahdbinabdulaziz.com/main/g310.htm) entitled "Role of Ministry of Information," which reads: "The Ministry of Information is responsible for all information services, including radio, television and publications." The "publications" link leads to a list of selected Saudi newspapers, including Al-Riyadh. A similar link may be found on the "links" section of the Web site of the Saudi embassy to the U.S. (http://www.saudiembassy.net)

Although blood libels do not appear often in the Arabic press, they have occasionally been published in leading newspapers throughout the Arab and Muslim world. As examples, see the Egyptian government dailies Al-Ahram (October 28, 2000) and Al-Akhbar (October 20, 2000 and March 25, 2001), in MEMRI's Special Dispatches Leading Egyptian Newspaper Raises Blood Libel and The Blood Libel Again in Egypt's Government Press.