23 Mar 2016

Saudi mosque, exports, oil and the West

The Great Mosque of Brussels stands proud in the capital of Belgium, as well it might. For the site was a gift by then Belgian King Baudouin in 1967 to the Saudis.


The 1960s saw large numbers of Moroccan and Turkish people arrive in Belgium as guest workers, and the House of al Saud were keen to help provide a place for worship. King Faisal gifted not only the Great Mosque itself, but a pledge of secure cheaper oil supplies to Belgian companies.

The traditions and teachings it brought with it came from a very specific strain of Islam, and today the Great Mosque of Brussels is said to remain a centre of Saudi-funded Wahhabi preaching and Salafism.

How much contact the perpetrators of the latest atrocities in Brussels had with the mosque we don’t yet know; we do, however, know that they had links to Isis and Isis have claimed them as their own. The Saudis claim they run the kingdom along the tenets of Wahhabi teachings, whilst Isis contend it has deviated from the supposedly true path

Previously the Saudi director of the mosque has said that no-one connected with the so-called Islamic State would be allowed in. But what we do know is that Isis claim radical Wahhabism as the ideological engine of their monstrous movement. Saudi Arabia, of course, rejects accusations that it has had anything to do with the rise of the so-called Islamic State.

In the maelstrom of the Middle East, one nation state’s state-sponsored Wahhabism is simply another would-be caliphate’s fanatical beliefs. The question is whether the presence of centres of Wahhabi teaching provide fertile ground for the seeds of radicalisation.

As early in the refugee crisis as last September, the Saudis reportedly offered to build 200 new mosques in Germany to facilitate the new Syrian refugees. They were supposedly to have been accompanied by Saudi-supplied and financed preachers, and madrassas (faith schools). These reports were later denied by the Saudis themselves, but significantly in the meantime Merkel’s allies rejected the offer – saying that Germany needed “solidarity with refugees,” not “a cash donation”.

Of course, Berlin only had to look at what free Saudi mosques, preachers and mosques have done to radicalise Bosnia, once a centre of mild and mellow observance of the Islamic faith. Or the Germans could have looked at Pakistan, dramatically radicalised by the myriad Saudi-funded mosques and their preachers, often from an early age in madrassas that have replaced much of Pakistan’s more secular schols, and similarly in Afghanistan, and today beginning to sweep through Bangladesh.

None of this is new to the British government. No two countries on earth know what’s been going on better than  the US and Great Britain. In return for massive defence contracts both countries have enjoyed guaranteed oil supplies since the notorious pact signed on Valentine’s Day 1945 by President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia aboard a US destroyer on Bitter Lake in Egypt.

In return for guaranteed oil supplies, America pledged never to interfere with or become involved with Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs. Thus the West has been unable to act on what many see as the interface between the kingdom and its radical Wahhabi clerical leadership.

As Europe scurries after the alienated, radicalised, often criminalised, people who pose this very immediate threat to our cities and way of life, has the moment come for our own governments to confront our relationship with the Saudis, even as that country tries to confront its own threat from Isis?

Many in Britain, and indeed Belgium, would claim that we need to pursue a new course that will refuse all compromise with a regime that allegedly fosters the export of practices which so many Islamic scholars condemn as an abuse and contortion of a precious faith which brings so much succour to so many.

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11 reader comments

  1. Sadah says:

    How to be an expert in Saudi Arabia:
    1- Never learn Arabic.
    2- Never travel to Saudi.
    3- Use the word Wahabbism like a punctuation mark.

    You’re set!

  2. Mohamed says:

    Wahabism is not the issue, ISIS is. ISIS is a criminal organisation, a mix of criminal, religion and political ideology.
    As there are more Sunnis than Shias in the Arab World. The Shia in Iraq/Syrai willl never win. ISIS criminals keep coming from all regions in the Arab worl, Europe and other parts of the world.
    Main stream in the Arab world don’t like ISIS/DAESH but they sympathise with them in certain political issues but never in religion.
    I am sure many ISIS terrorists has entred Europe therough the migrant crisis. although most migrants ares geuinine.
    The only way to get rid of ISIS is Education in the arab world need to change and also cut the head of the sneak.

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    Close to my family’s home in the 1950s there was the sole Mosque that served the Islamic worshippers in London. Later in life, I lived in a small West Yorkshire town (Keighley) where there were seven Mosques serving a wide range of the origins of their adherents. Much of the funding for those Mosques came from Saudi supported charities.
    It was notable that people living near concentrations of Muslims were acceptors whilst those living at a distance complained about there being so many of them. Muslims are not our enemies.
    Better to concentrate on gradual reforms and moves to a more inclusive State in Saudi Arabia than provoking their defensive obstructions.

  4. Akash nabik says:

    It’s easy to connect mosque…salafist…wahabist etc..left liberal…nazis neocons theory of terrors seems to be Revolving on some simple parameters…but no one want to shed a little light on the real cause of all these mayhem: injustices against Palestinians….oil grabbing strategey which led to Iraq war…these are the real cause of disenchantments….

  5. beth says:

    Very well explained this disheartened mix of Saudi mosques, oil and the West . Are we ever going to get good news?

  6. Alan says:

    This article avoids any mention of the influence, interference and invasions that have supported Arabia (Saudi is the name of the family that runs Arabia) for over 100 years. The article attempts to disguise Sunni complicity by focusing upon Wahhabi, claiming ISIS teaching differs, reminiscent of western claims over ‘moderate’ rebels. It’s scaremongering references to mosques do it’s author no favours. As an opinion the article is ill conceived, as reference, poorly researched. Was this written by Mr Snow?

  7. Keith says:

    They would be right. Now is the time to invest heavily in renewables and to phase out subsidies for oil, to free our societies from this destructive relationship with Middle Eastern oil and to free our economies from the massive threat of driving up of global warming.

  8. Rebwar Rashed says:

    Turkey has straightened the Saudi´s project by wanting to build mosques in Latin America, to organizing tens of thousands of undeclared mosques in basements in almost every city n Scandinavia and Europe and encouraging radical Islamism. Erdogan announced it publicly that he wants to “liberate” Jerusalem and have plans to lead the Friday prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
    Turkey´s support to ISIS, Jabah Alnusra, the Sultan Murad Brigades and other fascistic Islamist groups which leads personally by Erdogan himself, is obvious.
    Why the US and the West in general choose to not do anything about it is quite surprising.
    The democracies, and also the freedom- and liberation movement of Kurdistan, are now facing the most of this barbaric religious fascism.

  9. Iftikhar Ahmad says:

    Muslim community in all western countries needs Masajid, state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers, halal food, sharia laws and Muslim cemeteries.

  10. georgina bruckner says:

    Thank you for saying this. And the Royal connections!

    Inexplicable and hair raising. Could it be just for the oil?????

  11. derekandclive says:

    Jon has summed it up brilliantly. Not only did KSA guarantee oil supply in 1945 but Nixon cemented the deal with the 1973 petrodollar system which replaced the Bretton Woods gold-based system for the entire world. KSA see their citizens as simple people who are easily controlled by religious doctrine. This is not the same as isis – isis want people to denounce official faith and overthrow KSA for example. Madrassas are an issue but most isis indoctrination happens 1-1 online; not in a public mosque. If saudi madrassas are the feedstock for isis they should indeed be closed until the isis menace is eliminated.

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