Friday, March 12, 2010

Saudi Irony of the Day?

Maureen Dowd
Fred R. Conrad, Photographer
(Image from New York Times)

Ms. Maureen Dowd recently traveled to Saudi Arabia to get a clearer picture of Islam and discovered something unexpected in our globalized world:
It was nearly impossible for me to experience Islam in the cradle of Islam.
Rather ironic, as she implicitly goes on to note in her New York Times column, "Pilgrim Non Grata in Mecca" (March 9, 2010), because:
You don't have to be a Catholic to go to the Vatican. You don't have to be Jewish to go to the Western Wall (although if you’re a woman, you're squeezed into a slice of it at the side). You don't have to be Buddhist to hear the Dalai Lama speak -- and have your picture snapped with him afterward.
But in Saudi Arabia, Ms. Dowd was not allowed in a mosque . . . unofficially. Apparently, Saudi Muslims, or at least some of them, believe that there's some unwritten rule forbidding nonbelievers from entering places sacred to Islam, for in Jidda, she asked to attend a mosque but "was told that non-Muslims could not visit mosques," which isn't true, technically, as Prince Saud al-Faisal also insisted, though he did admit:
Well, you know, it depends who you ask . . . . Somebody . . . who doesn't want to run into trouble may tell you no.
But why would any Muslim in Saudi Arabia imagine running into trouble for letting a non-Muslim enter a mosque? Perhaps because for so long Saudi Arabia''s Wahabist form of Islam has called for a "wall of resentment" between Muslims and non-Muslims and has informed Muslims that:
[E]veryone who does not embrace Islam is an unbeliever . . . and . . . they are enemies to Allah, his Prophet and believers. (Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology, Freedom House, 2005, page 24)
That might be a reason . . .

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