SHAFAQNA – In recent comments to the press, which comments Saudi Arabia’s mouthpiece: Al Arabiya, was only too eager to advertise, the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar – one of Sunni Islam’s most prominent figureheads asserted that the kingdom was both Arab and Muslims’ best line of defense.
While there are many questions such a statement requires us to ponder over I will begin at the obvious: defense against what enemy or which enemies? For Arab and Muslims to need defending then one has to assume that Arab and Muslims sit at the mercy of an evil they cannot possibly outrun or outmatch.
And so I must ask: What evil is Saudi Arabia insulated Arab and Muslims from?
I will circle back to that question a bit later on in my analysis.
The first point of business I’d like to address here is the inherent sectarian, and down right ethnocentric nature of the Grand Mufti’s statement to the press. If we consider that Islam absolutely asserts people’s right to religious freedom – calling on all Muslims to recognise all individuals’ right to their beliefs, I find Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb’s remark a little difficult to stomach – especially if we consider that Egypt, where he resides has battled with sectarian-based violence.
What happened to standing on principles? Has justice become a thing to be acquired or slapped on to certain groups according to certain criteria rather than implemented universally on the basis we are all equal in our humanity?
I realise that such a concept remains foreign to Saudi Arabia since religious oppression remains Wahhabism’s religious axis, but one would expect better from al-Azhar senior cleric.
Al Arabiya reads: “During his meeting with Ahmed Kattan, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo, he said that Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, plays an important role in supporting and serving the interests of the Arab and Islamic nation and defending its causes.”
I’m fully aware that the point of this PR exercise was to portray Saudi Arabia as the champion of all things Islamic and Arab as to play into those pan-Islamic and pan-Arab sentiments the kingdom loves to peddle to legitimise its existence, but again …. WHAT ENEMY?
If anything it is Saudi Arabia that has stood the source of all crises and things abominable. It is Saudi Arabia too that has fanned radicalism and played sectarianism as an unsheathed sword against religious minorities, arguing righteousness.
If enemy there is it sits in Riyadh. If danger there is, it is being formulated from Riyadh.
By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna