Thursday, April 27, 2006

Saudi Money, Why and… What do They Want in Return?

With so many South East Asian leaders recently either going to, or receiving guests from Saudi Arabia it makes you wonder if all is forgotten and forgiven and if is there a danger of some of our leaders (even unwittingly) selling out their constituent’s possibly fading chances of a liberal and enlightened future.

“Arab News” 18/8/02 “In 2001: the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) spent some $33 million on 2,800 projects and more than 44,000 orphans. It maintains offices in many countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.”

Sydney Morning Herald 25/11/02: “About half of the funds for Sydney's oldest mosque, Lakemba - opened in 1977 - came from the Middle East. The largest donation, $320,000, was from the Saudi royal family.” “In fund-raising circles, Saudi Arabia is a five-star destination. The Saudi government first gave to Australian Muslims in 1974 - a donation of $1.2 million - and since then, some observers guess, about $100 million has followed.”

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) 20/12/02: According to 'Ayn-Al-Yaqeen, the list of countries where the Saudis have established schools includes (among others): the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, Spain, Austria, Scotland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Burundi, Fiji, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Uganda, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Brazil, Eritrea, and Djibouti. (full article if you have the time)

Saudis Quietly Promote Strict Islam in Indonesia by Jane Perlez August 2003 (edited excerpts): “In high school, Atep Arofiq was fascinated by Islamic studies, and with meagre means for higher education, a free institution financed by Saudi Arabiais the Educational Institution of Indonesia-Saudi Arabia seemed a natural choice. There was an added attraction: the best students could graduate to further study in Saudi Arabia, all expenses paid. He lasted two years… "There were too many forbidden things," he said of the school where the Arabic language, taught by teachers from Saudi Arabia, is the focus of the curriculum. "You were not allowed to join any other student organization. Jeans were out, and they preferred that you wear a beard and long Arabic clothes," and “the strict Wahhabi form of Islam was the basis of the teaching.”

The article also states: “From the financing of educational institutions to giving money for militant Islamic groups, the influence of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi charities, has been growing steadily here in the world's most populous Muslim country.” (Full Article)

And the other interesting titbit: “the Pew Global Attitudes Project, an international poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press [July 03 I think], showed striking support among Indonesians for the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, whom Indonesians rated as one of the three leaders they trusted the most, and a huge drop in support for the United States. In 2000, 75 percent of Indonesians said they had a favourable opinion of the United States. This year, 83 percent said they had an unfavourable opinion.”

“Asia Times” 19/8/03: ‘Terrorists regroup in southern Thailand there is cause for concern as many young Thai Muslims have been schooled in pendoks (Muslim religious schools) in the past three decades and embraced the more fiery brand of Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, thanks to generous Saudi funding for mosques and schools.’

“Al-Ahram” Cairo, May 2004: ‘Southern Thailand is home to the Yala Islamic College, run by hard-line Wahhabi cleric Ismail Lufti. He has an estimated 8,000 followers installed throughout southern Thailand in key Islamic posts and the college, which like most Islamic institutions in southern Thailand is funded by Saudi money, has about 800 students who are reportedly taught hardcore Wahhabi doctrine.’

Second Report of an Independent Task Force on Terrorist Financing, Sponsored by the (US) Council on Foreign Relations 15/6/2004 (edited): “David Aufhauser, the then-general counsel of the Treasury and chairman of the National Security Council’s Policy Coordination Committee on Terrorist Financing, testified before Congress that “in many ways, [Saudi Arabia] is the epicenter” of the financing of al-Qaeda and other terrorist movements. This statement of fact—clear to U.S. officials of two administrations since the late 1990s.” “The growth of the Wahhabi sect around the world…has been patronized by the Saudi royal family, the Saudi Arabian government, and especially Saudi-based charities, which have financed thousands of Islamic schools around the world as well as new mosque construction. The financial power of Saudi Arabia has ensured that its predominant Islamic sect has been able to propagate itself, including in places like Southeast Asia that have always had very tolerant and undoctrinaire interpretations of Islam. Even in devoutly Buddhist Cambodia nearly 15 percent of Cham Buddhists are Wahhabi, the result of Saudi aid and scholarships.” “And madrasas are increasingly beyond state control. Of the 37,362 madrasas in Indonesia, only 3,226 (8.6 percent) are run by the state; and 81 percent of the 5.6 million students enrolled in madrasa attend privately funded and run Islamic schools. In the Philippines only thirty-five of 1,600 are controlled by the state, with alarming consequences. As one education official put it, the privately funded madrasas “tailor their curricula to the wishes of whoever subsidizes them.”

Have the Saudi’s repented and stopped all this activity, or has it just become more clandestine?

More in-depth article the Thai situation where killings continue, from Yale Global Online

Makes you think?


No comments: