Saudi Shi'ites Support Dynasty Over Radicals

(Jerusalem Post) - Amir Taheri Officially, they do not exist. In reality, however, Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites account for 15% of the kingdom's population of 20 million. Concentrated in the oil-rich province of al-Sharkiyah, Saudi Shi'ites form a good part of the kingdom's urban middle class. Yet of the top 400 government positions, only one undersecretary of state is held by a Shi'ite. Of the 120 members of the all-appointed Saudi parliament, only two are Shi'ites. With the rise of militant Hanbalism (Wahhabism), Shi'ites have emerged as the strongest supporters of the royal family. If the al-Saudi dynasty is toppled, they fear its place would be taken by fanatics like bin Laden, who publicly state that Shi'ites must either convert to Hanbalism, leave the country, or face death.

2003-05-19 00:00:00

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