In defence of Saudi Arabia

By Gharawi Mohammed

I do not want to go into the reasons behind the new government’s decision to close the King Salman Centre for International Peace in Kuala Lumpur, although it was a pre-agreed agreement between the previous government and the Saudi leadership. I respect the government’s decision on the matter, which is similar to other recent decisions on institutions and projects which have been shut down since the new government came into power.

However, I have issues with how Moaz Nair linked the closure of the centre with Saudi Arabia’s official doctrine of Wahhabism, a term over which I have serious reservations. He also linked extremist thoughts to the Saudi curricula, saying they are feeding students at different levels of education. Additionally, he said their understanding and interpretation of Quranic verses are strictly literal and promote hatred against other religions, besides shaping the ideas of the young.

Like someone who hunts in turbid waters, it is easy to judge things without scrutiny. The writer claimed that a little knowledge of the Arabic language could lead to the conclusion that these curricula are the basis of intolerance and violence, but did not mention the source of this information. At what educational level is this taking place? Where is the educational curriculum that supports such claims?

There is no proof of the writer’s statement that there is an offensive language that instructs students not to deal with Jews or Christians. Saudi universities accept both Muslim and non-Muslim students, and thousands of workers in Saudi Arabia are non-Muslims. The curriculum of religious secondary schools says Allah created people to know each other and to live in harmony, and that Allah honours the sons of Adam regardless of colour or religion.

Everyone knows that a curriculum evolves and changes with time. But to put all curricula in one basket and generalise by saying that all Saudi curricula call for terrorism and feed the minds of the young with deviant ideas is a kind of accusation. The curricula in Malaysia a decade ago, for example, has changed as well. Can you explain why?

The writer’s attempt to link Saudi Arabia’s doctrine with the Islamic State is baseless and outdated. Saudi Arabia has suffered from the effects of terrorism and, like other nations, has fought terrorism in all its forms.

Saudi Arabia, which signed the Counter-Terrorism Treaty almost two decades ago, still continues its efforts to eradicate terrorism through various means. It has also cooperated with the international community, earning praise for its participation in all international forums aimed at collaborative efforts to counter this phenomenon and eradicate both it and those who stand behind it.

Saudi Arabia has always reminded the world, at every local, regional and international occasion, of the seriousness of this phenomenon in destabilising global security. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, says: “Terrorism does not differentiate between right and wrong, and does not observe covenants or sanctities.”

The Saudi crown prince is working hard to spread moderate thought and eliminate extremism. Some have repeatedly tried to link the charge of terrorism with Islam, as the writer did implicitly, but Saudi Arabia is still one of the first countries to defend Islam and its tolerance.

Gharawi Mohammed is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.