Friday, January 28, 2005
What effect does this material have on people who read it, study it, believe it? It has been available in Saudi Arabia ever since 1979, when the House of Saud gave over responsibility for education in the kingdom to the extremist elements of Salafism.
It is not an accident that 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on September 11 were Saudis. The New York Times (January 27, 2002) cited a poll conducted by Saudi Intelligence, and shared with the U.S. government, that over 95% of Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 have sympathy for Osama bin Laden.Yes, that is not a typo. This poison has turned over 95% of the people who believe it into terrorist sympathisers, terrorist wannabe's, terrorist preachers, terrorist facilitators, or terrorist killers. In Saudi Arabia, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, believed in the USA only by Aryan Nations neo-Nazi's and gullible people who are susceptible to a hate-based ideology, is widely accepted as fact. Many Saudis wish devoutly to conquer the world for their version of Islam. And theirs is no benevolent, tolerant rule as in medieval Istanbul. Istanbul was ruled by Turks, who are primarily Sufi. Sufis are tolerant, mystical, not dogmatic. Sufism is to Islam as Unitarianism is to Christianity--barely recognizable. Saudis are Salafist Sunnis. Sunnis are to Islam as Protestants are to Christianity. There is no central authority or pope. Each worship group has its own interpretations. As with protestantism, this spins off many bizarre sects. One of the most insular, rigid, and violent of these sects was founded by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a wandering radical self-proclaimed imam who teamed up with the Saud tribe back in the early 1800's and founded the Salafist sect, which the Saud's protected and patronized in return for favorable fatwas from Wahhab. Salafism isn't the only source of Islamic terrorist theology and philosophy, but it is a major one.
Before reading the report, who created it? Some right wing think tank? A conservative, evangelical Christian organization? CIA stooges working covertly out of the back of a Mexican bordello? Nope, nope, and nope. A liberal civil liberties organization! Think about it.
The CENTER FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is a division of Freedom House. Founded more than sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorship of the far left and the far right. Its Center for Religious Freedom defends against religious persecution of all groups throughout the world. It insists that U.S foreign policy defend those persecuted for their religion or beliefs around the world, and advocates the right to religious freedom for every individual.These materials are not simply "strict" and "narrow." They are not like any main-stream Christian materials, but are more of a kind with Aryan Nations propaganda.
Since its inception in 1986, the Center, under the leadership of human rights lawyer Nina Shea, has reported on the religious persecution of individuals and groups abroad and undertaken advocacy on their behalf in the media, Congress, State Department, and the White House. It also sponsors investigative field missions.
One analogue for Wahhabism’s political influence today might be the extremely angry form taken by much of German nationalism in the period after WW I. Not all angry and extreme German nationalists (or their sympathizers in the U.S.) in that period were or became Nazis. But just as angry and extreme German nationalism of that period was the soil in which Nazism grew, Wahhabi and Islamist extremism today is the soil in which al Qaeda and its sister terrorist organizations are growing. We need to recognize the problem posed by the international spread of this hate ideology, including within the American homeland.While religious materials are protected under the law, materials that brainwash readers to kill, rob, rape, and murder (Hiraba, not Jihad) are more like plans for a conspiracy to commit mayhem than guideposts on a path to spiritual development.
This report is a first step in an effort to contain the destructive ideology being proliferated by the Wahhabis within the American homeland. Hopefully it will lead to the removal of tracts spreading hatred within American mosques, libraries and Islamic centers.
So what's the plan?
- As an American who cares about such things as religious freedom and freedom of the press, I hesitate to ban any books, no matter how repellent and evil they might be. However, if these books are printed by a hostile foreign government that diplomatically pretends to be friendly , then government and economic pressure applied against that hostile government could be easily justified. Self-defense in kind.
- The other side of things is that there need to be some better ideas getting into the idle hands of young, aimless, confused muslims who are susceptible to radicalization. The west doesn't have what it takes to educate them on Islam, but it does have a great educational tradition of its own that is compatible with an Islamic faith. Great Books are the foundation of the liberal arts. Great Books need to be skillfully translated from English, French, German, Spanish and other languages into Arabic and made available all over the world.