Opinion: Muslim World Must Speak Out Against Wahhabism

June 6, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On June 6, 2004 The Washington Post ran an opinion piece on the "Wahhabi threat to Islam" by Mona Eltahawy, managing editor of Arabic Women's eNews and a columnist for the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Eltahawy writes, "When gunmen killed 22 people in the city of Khobar in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern province last weekend, they set off alarm bells in international oil markets. But louder bells should be ringing throughout the Muslim world over the cost to Islam of this conflict between the Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi zealots it helped create and who now vow to overthrow it...It is long past time for Muslims to question the Wahhabi ideology that is pulling the rug out from under Saudi life, for it is that same ideology that has been involved in militant movements throughout the Muslim world for years...The Saudi royal family has its own reckoning to do with Wahhabism. By giving Wahhabis a free hand over Saudi Arabia's religious and educational sectors, the royal family guaranteed the showdown. Instead of fostering a liberal and intellectual class that despises the Wahhabis and could have been an important ally against them, the Saudi government instead imprisons those calling for liberal reform. Last year, Crown Prince Abdullah brought together Saudi intellectuals, including women and members of the country's Shiite minority, to debate much-needed reform as an antidote to Wahhabism run amok, but every discussion of reform is tempered with the caveat: 'It cannot be too fast.' What is 'too fast' when militants carry out two audacious attacks within a month against expatriates in the oil sector? What is too fast when their car bombings kill Saudis and non-Saudis, Muslims and non-Muslims alike?...The Muslim world must speak up not only for its religion but for Saudis caught between the rock of the royal family and its absolute rule and the hard place of the Wahhabis and their unforgiving Islam."

See also: Islam, International