It has become clear in Iraq, if it wasn't already, that what we call the "war on terrorism" is in fact a small part of a larger intellectual and religious struggle within Islam, between moderates who want to live in modern countries, and radicals who want to impose their extreme interpretation of sharia , or religious law. So far, most of the money, and most of the "public diplomacy," has been channeled to the radicals. Consider, for example, an extraordinary report published this year by the Center for Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House, which surveys more than 200 books and pamphlets collected at mosques and Islamic centers in U.S. cities. Most were in Arabic. All were published by the Saudi government or royal family, and all promote the extreme form of Wahhabi Islam found in Saudi Arabia. The books reflect contempt for the United States, condemn democracy as un-Islamic, and claim that Muslims are religiously obliged to hate Christians and Jews. Most insidiously, the documents denounce moderate Muslims, especially those who advocate religious tolerance, as infidels. If a Muslim commits adultery or becomes a homosexual, one pamphlet -- published by the Saudi government's ministry of Islamic affairs -- advises that "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and take his money."
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Anne Applebaum lays out the extent of the problem that Karen Hughes is facing in public diplomacy. She can start right at home here and then, perhaps with the aid of the rest of the State Department, put more pressure on the Saudis.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 7:32 AM