Saudi Arabia Refashions Its Soul

(Beirut Daily Star) Muqtedar Khan - I have just returned from an international conference on terrorism at Imam Mohammed University in Riyadh, the global headquarters of Wahhabism, where nearly 20,000 students study the core teachings of Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab. The conference revealed the extent and depth of rethinking taking place within the kingdom. In closed-door sessions I was extremely critical of Wahhabism and of Saudi policies, and I found the Saudi scholars and ministers in attendance open and willing to listen. I heard one member of the Majlis al-Shura (the Saudi consultative council that is a pretense for a parliament) as he lambasted the university and Wahhabi clerics for being the source of the problem behind terrorism in Saudi Arabia. "We are a country that is economically in the 20th century and intellectually in the 14th century," he said. The writer is a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

2004-05-07 00:00:00

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