President Trump has embraced Saudi Arabia, praising it as an ally in the battle against Islamic jihadists. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explains this new relationship: “The president clearly was extending a hand and understanding that only together can we address the threat of terrorism.”
This is a decision, however, that will only advance the jihadists’ cause.
What is the nature, and the evil, of Islamic jihad? The essence is the attempt to establish religious values by force. Rejecting the individual’s right—as recognized by free, secular nations—to practice or not practice religion, jihadism seeks to impose religious precepts upon unwilling targets. It is an effort to create a system under which everyone is ruled by the tenets of Islam. The bombings, the shootings, the beheadings are all attacks against those who do not obey Islamic law. They all rest on the premise that non-believers are not to be tolerated.
But isn’t this the premise espoused by the Saudi state as well? Consider its penal code. Among the “crimes” for which the death penalty is allowed are: blasphemy, apostasy, adultery, and homosexuality—all supposedly sins against Allah.
Under Saudi law, prohibited acts of terrorism include: “Calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based.”
The primary legal document serving as Saudi Arabia’s official “Constitution” is the Koran.
In other words, Allah’s commandments must be forcibly implemented and their violators punished. This is all simply “legalized jihad”—a holy war waged domestically under the sanction of law.
And just as the Saudi population must be made to comply with the dictates of Islam, so must the rest of the world. The Saudi government advocates and finances the international spread of its particular version of Islam ― Wahhabism ― through what a N.Y. Times story describes as a “system of funding for mosques, Islamic centers and Saudi-trained clerics that spans Asia, Africa, and Europe.” That article demonstrates, for example, how the nation of Kosovo, which “not long ago was among the most pro-American Muslim societies in the world,” has been transformed, largely because of Saudi efforts, into “a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for Islamic jihadists.” Today Kosovo has the highest per-capita rate in Europe of citizens going abroad to join ISIS.
In its words and its actions, Saudi Arabia nourishes the growing scourge of terrorism.
If there is any difference between its policies and those of ISIS, it is merely a matter of degree. Yet our president tells us that the Saudis are enemies of Islamic jihadism and will work with us to eliminate it. And to compound this obscenity, he helps celebrate the opening, in Riyadh, of an institution the Saudis have named the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.
Whitewashing the Saudis and evading the pernicious nature of their law serve only to facilitate the work of the jihadists.