Back to Index

RELIGION: Islam and Wahabite fundamentalism

The world crisis is forcing the US to speak more candidly about mid-East affairs, both about Israel and about Saudi Arabia. Sharon's refusal to heed US requests has made an open discussion of the Zionist lobby possible, while the hypocrisy of US judgments of friendly and useful countries such as Saudi Arabia has become patent. The replacement of Jesse Helms by Joseph Biden as chairman of the Senator Foreign Affairs Committee let in fresh air. Saudi Arabia, despite being the leading supplier of oil to the US, is now a target, However, Biden avoids an criticism of Islam as such.

He told the Council on Foreign Relations that it was high time Saudi Arabia was told to stop financing hate-filled religious schools around the world. "I do not doubt the pressure that the Saudis are under, like other Arabs states in the region, having to essentially buy off their extreme groups in order to maintain themselves," Biden said, charging that the Saudis had destabilized the region, "by essentially funding a significant portion of what we are now dealing with - Islam gone awry." It was one thing to export Wahhabi Islam, the Saudi Arabian tradition of Islam, in religious schools. But he said many of the schools were "hate-filled anti-American breeding grounds." He said he was aware the US imported about 1.6 million barrels of oil each day from Saudi Arabia, but he said Washington had to clearly warn Saudi Arabia. Biden also said the arrival of US ground forces in Afghanistan could be a positive development in the propaganda war. The Muslim world would see US soldiers taking risks rather than "a high-tech bully" relying solely on bombs. "It demonstrates to the entire world that we're willing to risk American lives, that we have the capability to risk them and succeed," Biden said. "The longer the bombing goes on, the more susceptible we are to criticism, justified and unjustified, in the Islamic world," he said. Despite Biden's remark, the fact remains that US military strategy relies primarily on aviation, and is very unwilling to risk large numbers of troops.

Ronald Hilton - 10/24/01