This blog has looked at the false friendship Saudi Arabia offers to America and western nations increasingly threatened by Islamic extremist terror attacks. Even as the Saudis purportedly aid in the fight against ISIS, Saudi funds continue to finance the spread of virulent forms of Islamic which even a child - or a cretin - ought to recognize will likely lead to radicalization and terror attacks. Like fundamentalist Christianity, the form of Islam financed by Saudi Arabia is threatened my modernity itself and religious tolerance. Modern knowledge and others living fruitful happy lives free from religion undermine religious fundamentalism and expose the lies of the proponents of fundamentalism. The question thus becomes this: when will America and the west start treating Saudi Arabia as the enemy that it is in the war against Islamic terrorism and atrocities? A column in the New York Times looks at Saudi duplicity. Here are some excerpts:
For decades, Saudi Arabia has recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists. And there’s no better example of this Saudi recklessness than in the Balkans.
Kosovo and Albania have been models of religious moderation and tolerance, and as the Clinton statue attests, Kosovars revere the United States and Britain for averting a possible genocide by Serbs in 1999 (there are also many Kosovar teenagers named Tony Blair!). Yet Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries poured money into the new nation over the last 17 years and nurtured religious extremism in a land where originally there was little.
The upshot is that, according to the Kosovo government, 300 Kosovars have traveled to fight in Syria or Iraq, mostly to join the Islamic State. As my colleague Carlotta Gall noted in a path breaking article about radicalization here, Saudi money has transformed a once-tolerant Islamic society into a pipeline for jihadists.
“Saudi Arabia is destroying Islam,” Zuhdi Hajzeri, an imam at a 430-year-old mosque here in the city of Peja, told me sadly. Hajzeri is a moderate in the traditional, tolerant style of Kosovo — he is the latest in a long line of imams in his family — and said that as a result he had received more death threats from extremists than he can count.
Hajzeri and other moderates have responded with a website, Foltash.com, that criticizes the harsh Saudi Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. But they say they are outgunned by money pouring in from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to support harsh variants of Islam through a blizzard of publications, videos and other materials.
This is not a Kosovo problem, but a global problem. I first encountered pernicious Saudi influence in Pakistan, where the public school system is a disgrace and Saudis filled the gap by financing hard-line madrasas that lure students with free tuition, free meals and full scholarships for overseas study for the best students.
Likewise, in traditionally moderate, peaceful countries like Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in West Africa, I’ve seen these foreign-financed madrasas introduce radical interpretations of Islam. In the Balkans, Bosnia is particularly affected by Gulf support for extremists.
[T]he world needs to have tough conversations with Saudi Arabia about its role. It’s not that it is intentionally spreading havoc, more that it is behaving recklessly; it has made some painstaking progress in curbing extremist financing, but too slowly.
It’s particularly dispiriting because much of the extremist funding seems to come from charity: One of the most admirable aspects of Islam is its emphasis on charity, yet in countries like Saudi Arabia this money is directed not to fight malnutrition or child mortality, but to brainwash children and sow conflict in poor and unstable countries.