Saudi King Denounces ‘Islamized Terrorism’

AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency
AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia’s new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, openly discussed “Islamized terrorism” in his statement to an Organization of Islamic Conference entitled “Islam and Combatting Terrorism.”

Al-Arabiya transcribes King Salman’s remarks, delivered to the conference by Prince Khaled al-Faisal:

King Salman described “Muslim nations” as being “threatened by the infiltration of Islamized terrorism with its killing, oppression, pillaging and other ranges of aggression that have trespassed the borders of our Islamic world.”

He said these radicals, who are carrying “a falsified Islamic banner,” have promoted a version of Islam which is “fueling the international opinion to hate Muslims.”

Muslims are now seen as “culprits and as a source of fear and concern.”

The terrorist militants have also caused “embracement and nervousness to the Islamic nations, its organizations and its people in front of other nations which we are connected to through cooperation.”

He said ties between Muslim nations and other non-Muslim states were “almost shaken and had gone backward because of these terrorists.”

The King also discussed the efforts of Saudi clerics and universities to dispute the theological justifications for Islamist terror, which is obviously a rather difficult conversation to have unless one admits there is such a religious framework for terrorist ideology.

That is considerably more mention of Islam in a discussion of terrorism than anything you’re likely to get from the Obama Administration, which prefers holding meaningless summits about Generic Violent Extremism that produce little beyond community-organizer Web pages, colorful logos, and mumbling about how everyone should be nicer to each other.  Unfortunately, the conference went in some unhelpful directions after the Saudi monarch kicked it off.

Granted, the thrust of these remarks is to call out Islamist or “Islamized” terrorism as a threat to the reputation and fortunes of what the Saudi government sees as mainstream, moderate, respectable Islam.

Some might hope for a more full-throated denunciation of pure evil. However, this attitude implicitly accepts a special Muslim responsibility to attack the ideological, political, and financial support for terrorism – King Salman explicitly called on his audience “not to give any helpline to these terrorists, or even sympathize with them” – and that’s a big step toward understanding organisms like ISIS and al-Qaeda as something more than a ridiculously tiny minority of extremists engaged in a doomed-to-fail effort to hijack Islam.

Despite the comments against terrorism, CNS News observes that the hosting organization, the Muslim World League, “has a record of religious bigotry and support for the Palestinian ‘jihad’ against Israel,” and has branches in Indonesia and the Philippines which have been “‘specially designated global terrorist entities’ by the U.S. Treasury Department, which accused them of channeling funds to al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist networks in those countries.” The group has denied these charges, although their association with the extreme Wahabbi brand of Islam is harder to deny.

CNS also observed that other speakers at the conference took the Saudi king’s remarks about terrorism “giving an opportunity to those trying to hurt Islam” as a slight not against radical Islamists, but “enemies” of Islam engaging in “new global colonialism”:

The grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb – regarded as the top authority in Sunni Islam – spoke of a conspiracy by “new global colonialism allied to world Zionism,” the AFP news agency reported.

In the conference program, the MWL portrayed terrorists as misguided young people whose actions were serving the agenda of those who hate Islam.

“Our own children are serving the interests of those who seek to undermine Islam by setting the worst examples,” it said. “These hatemongers have been condemning Islam of the vilest charges without any evidence to support their claim.”

As for those involved in terrorism, the MWL said, “[t]hese juveniles and fool dreamers provided the slanderers with what they have been dreaming of.”

How can anyone expect young people to swallow bilge about how a “new global colonialism allied to world Zionism” is the source of all their problems, and then turn away from the Islamist masterminds who claim they have a strategy for violently overthrowing it? Pretending Islamists have nothing to do with Islam, as per the U.S. government’s political strategy, is bad; pretending they are saboteurs secretly working for the enemies of Islam is even worse.