An English-language open letter claiming to be from al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region invites Swiss tennis star Roger Federer to convert to Islam, vowing if he does that he’ll have “hundreds of millions Muslim supporters who will pray and invocate Allah for your triumph and success all your life.”
Federer, who is playing in the Wimbledon tournament that runs through July 15, is Catholic and met Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
“An Open Letter for Roger Federer from the Land of Khurasan: An Invitation for Embracing Islam,” circulated on pro-al-Qaeda Telegram accounts and bylined Muhammad Abdul Aziz, tells the philanthropist tennis star, who is married to fellow tennis pro Miroslava Vavrinec and has four children, that “the life of most famous players in many kind of sports who earn millions of dollars during their career, full of scandals and disgraces” finishes with “their life in the prison for killing or sexual abuse, and in many cases in the psychiatric hospital.”
“Or become alcoholic, drug addict, victim of fatal diseases, and often become bankrupt. Because they have spiritual emptiness, besides: wealth, strong body, youth, imprudence and bad companionship,” Aziz states, adding that “although there are big names in tennis world; like: Rod Laver, Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi; the best and favorite one for me and for millions of supporters is Roger Federer!”
The al-Qaeda writer lauds Federer for “good characters, politeness, prudence, patience, solemnity, and your behavior inside and outside the court… not like majority of the present tennis players who are temper tantrums, invective, and ‘racket abuse’ as a characteristic features of their performance.”
He adds that “the real losers are not who lose tournaments or the top ranks” but those who don’t follow the Quran.
Federer trains in Dubai, and the letter noted that he must have gotten to know Muslims in UAE, “then by your cleverness and innately shall arrive to the right conclusion and change your religion.”
The writer muses that the tennis pro may have been dissuaded from converting because he’s “influenced by the ‘Islam-phobia’ and propaganda of the Int. Media which characterize every good Muslim; man or woman, as a terrorist and a member of ISIS or Al-Qaida.”
“And they disclose that if Muslims govern the world or any part of it; they will destroy the modern civilization and the system of government especially the Democracy, human rights and freedom! And they will force all non-Muslims to be Muslims, or enslave them!” he added. “…Our religion forbids us from injustice with anybody even if he is not a Muslim, especially those living under the protection of an Islamic government!”
Maybe Federer is “afraid from your sins and think that Christianity is better because you can do every kind of sins, go to the Church, admit to the priest and take indulgence; and if you do so, shall go to the Paradise,” the al-Qaeda missive continues, calling that “the biggest crime.”
The next argument was that the “bad omen of not executing the obligation of Islam… with argument of freedom of opinion, feminism, democracy and civilization” has been causing “the annihilation of nations, societies, cities, and republics by what they call it ‘Natural Disasters’ but actually it is a divine punishment; like: earthquakes, floods, tsunami, cyclones and landslides etc. Or infest them with the epidemic fatal diseases from HIV/AIDS till Zika virus.”
“I hope that you shall make a magnificent record which shall not be broken forever. That is if you become the first ever famous tennis player to embrace Islam,” Aziz writes. “I know that may be you are under influence of your relatives and family, who will reject that; but they will not be of no benefit to you, nor their intercession for you would be accepted on the ‘Day of Resurrection.'”
The 14-page letter then gives Federer a quick briefing on what’s haram and halal in Islam.
“I believe that if you become a Muslim—as I wish—you will continue with that exceptional level for another ten years, especially if you don’t do big sins and perform ablution and praying five times daily, asking Allah his assistance and success, without tension or stress because you will believe that everything is with destiny of Allah,” Aziz adds.