Sunday, September 21, 2014

Robert Spencer: Saudi Arabia’s Phony Anti-Terrorism Fatwa

by Robert Spencer

It is a popular aspect of media mythmaking about the Islamic State that it is so extreme that even other “extremists” such as al-Qaeda shun and repudiate it. But this claim, like the many declarations by both Muslim and non-Muslim leaders that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam, is always left unexplained and unsupported.

The recent Saudi statement against terrorism is yet another example of this. The credulous and ignorant will wax enthusiastic over this display of Saudi “moderation,” but in reality — yet again — the closer one looks, the less there is to see.

The Associated Press reported that
Saudi Arabia’s highest body of religious scholars issued a stern ruling on Wednesday calling terrorism a “heinous crime” and saying perpetrators including Islamic State militants deserve punishment in line with Islamic law.
The Council of Senior Religious Scholars said in its fatwa, or religious edict, that it backs the kingdom’s efforts to track down and punish followers of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.
The House of Saud is in trouble. They’ve spent billions to propagate worldwide the view of Islam held by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. They perhaps never envisioned the prospect of a caliphate practically on their doorstep, and challenging their own legitimacy: the monster they created is returning to haunt them, and they know that if they join any military action against the Islamic State, they could face an uprising at home from young Muslims who have imbibed the understanding of Islam that they have so energetically taught. Hence this fatwa: they hope to delegitimize now what they have spent billions to legitimize, and convince their own people that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam and must be rejected.

AP, as biased as it is, seems aware that this is the point of this fatwa: to preserve the Saudi monarchy. “The clerics,” it reported, “are appointed by the government and are seen as guardians of the kingdom’s ultraconservative Wahhabi school of Islam. The statement by the group of 21 scholars underpins the kingdom’s broader efforts to deter citizens from joining extremist groups that want to bring down the Western-allied monarchy.”

The report noted that Secretary of State John Kerry had gone to Saudi Arabia last week and “planned to ask Mideast countries to encourage government-controlled media and members of the religious establishment to speak out against extremism.”

How ironic: the understanding of Islam that Saudis have worked so hard to spread throughout the world is now “extremism.” But the Saudi statement points at others as the “extremists”: “The council’s condemnations extended to others the Saudi government opposes as well, including the Shiite Hawthi rebel group in Yemen and Saudi Hezbollah, a Shiite militant movement that was engaged in attacks in the kingdom in the 1980s and 1990s. It also criticized what it called ‘crimes of terrorism practiced by the Israeli occupation.’”

It sounds as if this is the Saudi Islamic scholars’ version of the hit on the Five Families. But note the hypocrisy: the Saudis are against the jihad terrorism of the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Hizballah, but also against the foremost target of the global jihad, Israel — which shows that they’re not really against jihad terror at all. And what they’re really against is anything that would upset the House of Saud: “One of the greatest sins,” says the statement, is “disobeying the ruler.” This essentially makes it explicit: this is all about preserving the House of Saud, not about genuinely rejecting terrorism.

Yet “to help back up its religious ruling, the council referred to words of the Prophet Muhammad, who warned against following those who want to divide the nation.” The Islamic State, however, doesn’t want to “divide” Saudi Arabia. It wants to incorporate all of it into the Islamic State. But the scholars dismiss the new caliphate as a terrorist group: “The scholars added that any Muslim who thinks jihad — or striving in the path of God — means joining a terrorist group ‘is ignorant and has gone astray.’”

These scholars, remember, are in the country that for years has been the chief financier of jihad terrorism worldwide. But in any case, “the head of the council and grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik, described the Islamic State and al-Qaida as Islam’s top enemies.”

“Islam” in that case means “Saudi Arabia.”

Amid all these condemnations of terrorist groups was one notable omission: “Notably absent from the council’s list is the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi authorities have outlawed and also branded as terrorist.” The Brotherhood also has significant support in Saudi Arabia, but it doesn’t pose a threat to the Saudi state at the moment. Thus there is no need to mention it and risk angering even more of the population than this present declaration will rile up.

The Saudi Gazette offered more detail, saying that the Saudi Scholars Commission and Ifta Council “said terrorism, which is rejected by Shariah, is contradictory to the principles and purpose of Islam, which came as a mercy to the world and for the goodness of mankind.”

Saudi Arabia is, of course, a Sharia state. It regularly practices beheadings, amputations, and the like. It subjugates and oppresses women. This is what the Saudi Scholars Commission and Ifta Council means by a “mercy to the world.” When they condemn “terrorism,” they don’t mean by the word what most Americans think of. They mean “anything that threatens the Saudi state.”

They likewise redefine “tolerance”: “Tolerance is the essence of Islam, which came to maintain coexistence and peace on earth, the senior Ulema (Islamic scholars) said at the conclusion of the Council’s 80th session.” Tolerance? Remember: these apostles of Islamic tolerance believe that someone who has a Bible or a crucifix deserves arrest, imprisonment, and deportation or death.

The Orwellian redefinition machine went into overdrive when the scholars said: “Terrorism has nothing to do with jihad, and Islam rejects the deviant thought which causes bloodshed.” Except, that is, for the blood of apostates, heretics, adulterers, and all the others whose blood is called for under Sharia. The statement “described terrorism as any crime aimed at corrupting and undermining security, offenses against lives or property, homes, schools, hospitals, factories, bridges, state facilities or oil and gas pipelines, or blowing up or hijacking aeroplanes.”

And yet they condemn Israel, even though Hamas jihadists target Israeli lives and property, homes, schools, etc. What they really mean here is that terrorism involves offenses against Muslim lives and property.

Finally, “the council urged everyone to utilize all means to strengthen unity and cohesion.”
That is, utilize all means to strengthen the House of Saud. That is what this statement against terrorism is all about. Which will not keep it from being an object of celebration for the naïve and credulous.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We're In, is now available.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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