A correspondent sent me the colorful letter he addressed to the information office at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington and then the equally colorful letter he got back from an unnamed employee there.
First the letter from my correspondent, dated today:
I realize that I am but an "infidel" westerner, yet I have one burning question: does Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abd Al-‘Aziz also blame Zionist elements for the latest terrorist atrocity in al-Khobar? Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to stop playing ostrich and acknowledge the consequences of forty years of radical Wahhabism.
Just a thought.
The reference, of course, is to the Yanbu` bombings of May 1, 2004, which prompted the crown prince to say that "Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the Kingdom … I am 95 percent sure of that."
This reply, also dated today, then came from the Saudi information office:
Thank you for your e-mail Mr. [deleted]. Please allow me to share a few of my thoughts with you.
We Muslims do not refer to westerners as infidels. Infidels was the term used to describe people who worshipped idols such as trees or rocks back in the early days of Islam. Christians and Jews believe in the same God we Muslims believe in, and it would be an insult to ourselves to refer to them in such a derogatory manner.
Prince Abdullah referred to Zionists being behind the Yanbu attack not the Khobar attack. Prince Abdullah did not mean Zionists carried out this attack with their own hands, but two of the perpetrators of that attack are affiliated with a London based anti-Saudi group which is known to receive funding from pro-Zionist organizations. If we are going to crack down on terrorism, we must stop this type of funding. After all, President Bush did say ‘you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists.'
There is much anger and confusion about so called "radical Wahhabism" these days. I mostly blame the media for this. Some journalists would have you believe Saudis practice a sect of Islam called Wahhabism which teaches its followers all non-Muslims are the enemy, and must be hated and killed. This is preposterous. I can site you several verses in Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, which say all believers in God, specifically Christians and Jews, must be respected. I defy anyone to show me where in the Qur'an it says these people should not be respected, let alone hated or killed.
Wahhabism is a term coined by an element of the western media. No Saudi identifies himself/herself as a Wahhabi. Wahhabism is a myth. There is no Wahhabi sect. There is only one form of Islam, and it is the same Islam practiced by al 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.
Anyone who considers the close relationship Saudi Arabia has had with the US and other western countries over the past 70 cannot say we hate non-Muslims or westerners.
The problems of the Middle East are really not about religion. These problems all have serious political undercurrents. If the people of the Middle East were Buddhist, Hindu or Shinto we would still have the same problems. If we address the political issues, the religious issues will take care of themselves.
One thing we know for sure is that violence will not solve the problems of the Middle East. There has been violence going on there for decades, and it has not solved anything. If the problems of the Middle East are going to be solved, it must be done by observing international laws, specifically United Nations resolutions. Now which Middle Eastern country is in violation of more UN resolutions than all other countries of the world combined? It is the same country which receives more US foreign aid than all other countries of the world combined. Just a thought. Peace.
Comment: There is much in this reply that is obviously false: Kafir does not apply to Christians and Jews? Zionist elements fund Islamist organizations? The Qur'an only calls for respecting non-Muslim monotheists? Wahhabism is a myth? The Middle East the same if it were Buddhist? Israel receives more U.S. foreign aid than all other countries of the world combined? One gets the impression from this and other KSA embassy communications that they don't highly respect the intelligence of their audience. (June 3, 2004)