The Weekly Standard
01/17/2005, Volume 010, Issue 17
DESPITE A FEW PLAYS FOR political
advantage, here and abroad, the world's response to the
By January 6, Americans had pledged over
$350 million in private donations, more than matching the sum committed by the
The Russian town of
It would be pleasant to end on this note, emphasizing that, as usual, most of the world's religious bodies are engaged in cooperative humanitarian work and, in so doing, are not, as some say, "putting aside" their religious differences, but instead are visibly demonstrating their beliefs. However, one religious movement shatters this general harmony--radical Islam, especially the Saudis.
The prominent Islamist website Jihad Unspun maintains the tsunami struck Thailand for supporting "the Christian crusaders in the war on terror," Sri Lanka for giving "its full backing to the Christian Crusaders inside the White House," India for its "Shirk (polytheism)," and Indonesia because "the Kufr (non-Islamic) government of the apostate Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono" is fighting against the "mujahideen" in Aceh who want to establish an "Islamic Sultanate where the Sharee'ah (Islamic laws) prevail." The website does not explain why Aceh, the most Islamist of any Indonesian province, suffered the worst damage.
The Middle East Media Research Institute--which posts excerpts from Arabic TV, with translations, at memritv.org--has provided a sampling of Saudi sermons on the same theme. Ibrahim Al-Bashar emphasizes that the countries that were struck "refrain from adopting Allah's law, which is a form of heresy." Sheikh Fawzan Al-Fawzan asserts, "these great tragedies . . . are Allah's punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims." Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid concludes that the tsunami was caused by Christian holidays "accompanied by forbidden things, by immorality, abomination, adultery, alcohol, drunken dancing."
These are not isolated rants by errant preachers: They reflect official government positions. Al-Bashar is an adviser to the Saudi justice minister, and Al-Fawzan is a professor at the Al-Imam Mohamed bin Saud Islamic University, a position that he, like Al-Munajjid, cannot hold without government approval. All their sermons were shown on the state-controlled Al-Majd TV channel and reflect the Wahhabi ideology that is the state religion of Saudi Arabia--and which the Saudis, flush with petrodollars, assiduously propagate around the world, including in the United States.
The same pattern is shown in Saudi
The tsunami tragedy shows once more that Islamist extremism does not seek freedom, democracy, or the alleviation of poverty. Its explicit goal is to advance enmity between Wahhabis and all others, and to create reactionary regimes ruled by a perversion of Islamic law. The extremists would remove a Muslim leader such as Mohammed Younus, and perhaps execute him for the "crime" of cremating Hindu bodies and placing crosses on the graves of Christian victims. Islamist extremism--an incubator not only of terrorism but also of universal hatred--is the enemy of all other beliefs.
Paul Marshall is senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, which will shortly release a report on Saudi influence in American mosques.