Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Nov/12

3

Vandals

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The totalitarian Saudi regime has been busy again.

The Daily Telegraph’s Damian Thompson reports:

…The long-cherished ambition of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Wahhabi sect to smash up the ancient buildings of Mecca and Medina is nearing fruition.

In Mecca, the house of one of Mohammed’s wives has been demolished to make space for public lavatories. His birthplace may disappear, too, as part of King Abdullah’s scheme to complement the skyscrapers and shopping malls with a Grand Mosque fashioned from the same materials as a multi-storey car park in Wolverhampton.

As for Islam’s second holiest place, the city of Medina, a recent article by Jerome Taylor in the Independent revealed a megalomaniac plan to pull down three 7th-century mosques. Taylor added: “Ten years ago, a mosque which belonged to the Prophet’s grandson was dynamited. Pictures of the demolition that were secretly taken and smuggled out of the kingdom showed the religious police celebrating.”

Only a small minority of the world’s billion Muslims are Wahhabis, despite the tens of billions of petrodollars spent by the Saudis propagating their creed. (Bosnia, for example, is now littered with Saudi-style mosques, replacing the graceful Ottoman architecture that Wahhabis detest.) Many pilgrims to Mecca are revolted by the marriage of Puritanism and greed they find there. Yet protests are scattered and muted. Why?

One answer is that the House of Saud, though widely hated, is also feared: its wealth and terrorist connections make it unlikely that, say, a Pakistani politician would speak openly about the desecration of the Hajj.

The West can hardly complain about such gutlessness: this year’s Hajj exhibition at the British Museum was creepily sanitised – no mention of bulldozers or the 2,000ft clock tower built right next to the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building that is the centrepiece of Islamic devotions.

But what sticks in the craw is the hypocrisy of Muslims who throw a fit if Israeli archaeologists carry out non-intrusive work underneath the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, “Islam’s third holiest place”, as we’re constantly reminded. Such anger would be more convincing if the first and second holy sites weren’t being ploughed up by a police state. Likewise, are cartoons of Mohammed really more offensive than reducing the remains of his life to rubble?

As one Middle East expert put it to me: “Jews disturbing the Dome of the Rock fits into an anti-Western narrative, so Muslims can cope with that. The Saudi destruction of Mecca doesn’t fit into that narrative, and so there’s virtual silence.” Something worth bearing in mind, perhaps, when you wonder why the murder of Muslims by Muslims in Darfur or Syria provokes only limited outrage in the Islamic world….

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3 comments

  • B.B. · November 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    In Mecca, the house of one of Mohammed’s wives has been demolished to make space for public lavatories.

    The Saudis are literally shitting on their own Islamic heritage.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I have read that there is a real dynamic power tension between the Saudi Royals and the Islamic Clerics in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it is somewhat akin to the relationships between the Cadtholic Church and European monarchies up until 2 or 3 hundred years ago.

    I say “similar” from the sense that the religion holds great sway over the common man, and therefore secular leaders must at least “appear” to be observant practitioners, and pay homage to the most influential and popular clerics. It have also read that they also pay a fair amount of “protection money” to “Charity’s” in order to prevent being painted as traitorous Western puppets deserving of a popular uprising.

    All in all the religion appears to be damn inconvenient for the very practical, and elitist Royal family.

    It in this context that I propose the possibility that the Saudi Royals and their wealthy capitalist friends would be happy to see Islam slowly lose strength, even as they must be careful to measure their efforts and not break that surface tension.

    They might study up on Henry VIII for some ideas, or perhaps already have.

  • Author comment by Steve Cardon · November 3, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    [I broke my own rule and inadvertently posted “my” previous comment before finished or edited.]

    I had meant to add that when I speak of the threat of coup, I mean that the Ulema are in a position of being able to threaten support of a rival clan or conspire with persons within the kings immediate circle. Like the Catholic Church in Europe’s past, they are both useful to the king, and yet a threat. Not only must the Wahhabi Ulema be kept happy, but also a Shiite minority kept under control with both bribes and sticks.

    The Saudi’s who were sent to the US to train on various avionic and ECM equipment (my field), were very open with me. I can tell you they had no problem with going out drinking and “whoring” (I demurred from joining in despite their offers of funding the debaucheries… more out of embarrassment than anything else) at every opportunity.

    They had the IQ’s of gnats, and trying to teach them electronics was like trying to store water in a colander. Not one of them scored higher than 40% on any exam they were given… not for lack of considerable but frustrated efforts on my part. They went back and supervised western “civilian” technicians who did the actual maintenance.

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