A Saudi Manhattan

Columnist ‘Adel Zaid Al-Tarifi wrote (Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 14, 2003.):
“…What many of the official sheikhs and columnists — who do not awaken until a catastrophe occurs — say about the phenomenon is inappropriate, and does not deal with the real causes and roots of the ideology of Jihad and of accusing [others] of heresy. They suffice by describing what took place as an imported ideology, and ignore the roots imprinted in our culture… Our religious message includes many phenomena of religious extremism. A quick glance at the Friday sermons in the mosques or at the Fatwas can attest to this…”

“The Jihad groups find ideological cover in the religious message spread by the mosques and schools… But even if we set aside the main reasons why the Jihad stream was formed, there are many other, selfish reasons… The Fatwas, for example, that are issued by the leaders of the Jihad stream, and even by the sheikhs of the Islamic awakening [stream] in the past two years, have inflamed the emotions of many and provided a legitimate basis for these acts. Some Fatwas justified September 11; other Fatwas depicted these events as ‘blessed [Islamic] raids.’ During the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Fatwas sent many wretched young men to the hopeless battlefield…”

“The important question is this: What must be done? Many of the pulpits of education, such as the school, the home, and the mosque, need reform today. Anyone who wants to attribute what happened to economic or psychological conditions is missing the truth. These conditions can account for the behavior of criminals, but cannot account for a terror event based on religious belief. Religious terror cannot be contained, because it is part of the religious belief of those who carry it out. What can be done with people who think that anyone who does not agree with their fundamentalist path deviates from the path of righteousness? Those who carry out these deeds are not victims, but criminals…”

“These events are not newborn in our society, as some would like to present them. It is enough to mention the bombings of 1996, and of 1997. Reactions to these events were diverse. What is important regarding this most recent event is that it must not push us towards further religious extremism, as has happened in the past. Further religious extremism will lead us to a ‘Saudi Manhattan.'”

“I wrote this article a day before the three bombings [and following the arrest of an Al Qa’ida cell in Saudi Arabia about a week ago], and I am sorry to say that the Saudi Manhattan has indeed happened.”


About altoraifi
Al Toraifi is the current Editor-in-Chief of Al Majalla, the leading Arab magazine. A specialist on Saudi foreign policy, he is recognized as a commentator and participant in televised programs for CNN, NBC, BBC and Al-Arabia TV. Awarded the post-graduate International Conflict Prize 2008 from Kingston University for outstanding work, Mr Al-Toraifi is currently a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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