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Templeton Award Choice Outrages Two Jewish Groups

March 7, 1988
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Two major Jewish organizations on Friday protested the awarding of the $369,000 Templeton Prize to Dr. Inamullah Khan, secretary general of the World Muslim Congress. They accused Khan and his organization of being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.

The congress has observer status at the United Nations and is financed by Saudi Arabia. A proponent of Moslem unity, Khan is the first Moslem to win the award.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and Rabbi A. James Rudin, national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, both expressed outrage and shock in separate letters to Sir John Templeton, who established the prize in 1972 to encourage progress in religion.

In his letter, Foxman charged that the congress is openly anti-Jewish and endorses Holocaust revisionism, denial of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. In addition, Foxman pointed out, the congress also questions Israel’s right to exist.

“An anti-Semitic organization like the World Muslim Congress should not receive an honor recognizing its contribution to progress in religion,” Foxman said. “To give the Templeton Prize to Dr. Khan is to tarnish that prize and to demean the achievements of worthy previous recipients, such as Mother Teresa and Aleksander Solzhenitsyn.”

Rudin wrote Templeton that “Khan’s anti-Israel and anti-Jewish public record should have immediately disqualified him from such prestigious prize — one that has in the past been awarded to true agents of reconciliation and mutual respect among the religions of the world. Because of the noble and worthy purpose of the prize, Dr. Khan’s selection is all the more dismaying.”

Templeton is a Tennessee-born Wall Street investor who now lives in the Bahamas. The prize is to be given to Khan by Princess Alexandra of Britain, on May 10, in London.

The New York Times quoted the 73-year-old Khan Thursday as saying “Moslems will not rest until all of Palestine is vacated from the wrongful and illegal occupation by the Zionist entity.”

But The Times noted that Khan has been criticized by other Moslem groups for maintaining ties between the congress and the Jewish groups.

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