Saying 'No' to the Saudis
by Stephen Schwartz
Next Monday, Al-Baqee - a new coalition of American Muslims - will take an initiative that other citizens and leaders of our country should have begun immediately after 9/11: The group has called a protest against Saudi Arabia's support - by preaching, money and recruitment - of terrorism in Iraq.
The demonstration is set for 1 p.m. outside the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington next Monday.
Al-Baqee takes its name from a historic cemetery in Mecca devastated by fundamentalist radicals - the forerunners of al Qaeda - 200 years ago and again in the 1920s, when the House of Saud took over the Muslim holy cities of Arabia.
At albaqee.org, the group describes itself as "a coalition of concerned American Muslims across America which promotes the preservation of the religious, architectural and cultural heritage of Islam by fostering and advancing a peaceful understanding of Islam and denouncing acts of terrorism, vandalism and radicalism in the name of Islam."
Al-Baqee declares forthrightly, "Saudi Arabia's government is aware of the groups who directly support terrorism by hosting and supporting those who issue calls . . . that encourage terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere.
"Muslims across America denounce the destruction of the Islamic holy shrines which represent our religious, architectural and cultural heritage. Similar calls for destruction are responsible for the bombings of the Al-Askariyya Shrine in Samarra, Iraq, twice last year, in which hundreds of civilians were killed.
"Saudi Arabia has unfortunately been turned into a school for nurturing terrorism. According to the latest report by the U.S. military, more than half of the foreign fighters entering Iraq are coming from Saudi Arabia (Los Angeles Times, July 18), not to mention that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals. Al-Baqee would like to promote the awareness of such Wahhabi efforts.
"We appeal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to end all governmental support and ties to the ahhabi structure in the Saudi kingdom and worldwide. As a close U.S. ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an obligation to provide freedom of worship and honor human rights for all within its borders.
"Al-Baqee calls upon the Saudi government for the restoration and preservation of Islamic Holy Sites . . . and encourages the Saudi government to use its influence to restrain Wahhabi rhetoric that is fueling much destruction around the world."
Such an appeal from American Muslims, and a challenge to the Saudis, is welcome. The protest was organized after news in July that Saudi preachers and sharia judges called for terrorist attacks on Shia shrines at Karbala and Najaf in Iraq. Major destruction of these sites would touch off more and worse bloodshed in Iraq, in which Americans and Coalition soldiers would be killed along with innocent Iraqis.
American Muslims need to serve notice on the Saudis - and show their fellow Americans of other faiths that they are unafraid to affirm their allegiance to the worldwide struggle against extremist ideology in Islam. Their American neighbors and friends should join them in breaking the silence about Saudi complicity in terror in Iraq.