Friday, January 28, 2005

Saudi Hate Machine: II

More on Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques published by the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House.

Part I

Bin Baz

The document is 95 pages and well worth reading. I expect it will take many days of analysis to explore the document to my satisfaction. Following my mythopoetic inclination, let us start to explore some of the more interesting mythic details of this frightening document.
A prolific source of fatwas condemning “infidels” in this collection was Sheik ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Bin ‘Abdillah Bin Baz (died 1999), who was appointed by King Fahd in 1993 to the official post of Grand Mufti. As Grand Mufti, he was upheld by the government of Saudi Arabia as its highest religious authority. Bin Baz was a government appointee who received a regular government salary, served at the pleasure of the King and presided over the Saudi Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and the Issuing of Fatwas, an office of the Saudi government. His radically dichotomous mode of thinking, coupled with his persistent demonizing of non-Muslims and tolerant Muslims, runs through the fatwas in these publications.

Bin Baz is famously remembered by many Saudis for a ruling he issued in 1966 declaring the world flat. He was also responsible for the fatwa, unique in Islam, barring Saudi women from driving. Perhaps as a way of atoning for a fatwa he reluctantly issued in 1991 at the time of the Gulf War accepting the presence of non-Muslim troops in Saudi Arabia, in subsequent years Bin Baz seemed to go out of his way to pronounce against Christians, Jews, and “infidel” Westerners. His fatwas, which carry considerable weight, have been circulated through official Saudi diplomatic channels to mosques and schools throughout the world, including some in the United States, and have been particularly influential in radicalizing Muslim youth at home and abroad. The extremist views proclaimed in these official fatwas belie what Adel al-Jubeir, the articulate Saudi spokesman and special advisor to Crown Prince Abdullah, asserts during televised press conferences about fanatical sheiks in the Kingdom being mainly “underground,” and the fatwas they issue being merely expressions of “their personal opinions.” Though Bin Baz is now dead, his fanatical fatwas continue to be treated as authoritative by the Saudi government.
Bin Baz, now dead, the famous flat earther, is the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. The Saudi government must repudiate him and his writings, just as the Soviet Union did with Stalin (until in a startling and repellent development, Putin recently started rehabilitating him). The writings of Bin Baz should be the first target of US diplomatic pressure against the Saudi Hate Machine.
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