What Riyadh Should Do To Fight Terror
The diplomats have used their considerable skills to craft a statement that leaves each country free to claim that it has the other’s support in containing its own terror nemesis: Islamabad for India and Tehran for Saudi Arabia. The utility of the joint statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Salman notwithstanding, New Delhi must not overlook Saudi Arabia’s active promotion of the fanatical Wahhabi strain of Islam, which is the fountainhead of radical interpretations of the religion that terrorists use to find recruits and justify their crime against humanity. In South Asia, the Saudis have aided the propagation of Wahhabism over the last three decades by funding madrasas that promote the radical strain of Sunni Islam. This link was highlighted in the WikiLeaks cables, which detailed funds for constructing and operating mosques and madrasas, the training of imams preaching Wahhabism. The money was ostensibly being provided by ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations, with the support of the Saudi government. Research shows that since the 1960s, the Saudis have funnelled more than $100 billion to schools and mosques to spread the Wahhabi strain. The Taliban emerged from such madrasas. The thousands who turned up in Islamabad to protest the hanging of a renegade security official who shot dead the man he was supposed to guard are influenced by such madrasas. Any effort to counter terror in the name of religion must require Saudi Arabia act against, rather than fund, radical Islam. This must go hand in hand with efforts, of the kind inherent in India’s constitutional project, to let people of diverse faiths live together in harmony and dignity and prosper collectively. The two goals are mutually complementary, not in conflict.