The original ‘Islamist’ challenges Saudi Arabia’s ‘half-in, half-out’ stand


Ed Husain is on a mission – against Saudi Arabia’s “half-in, half-out posture” towards Sunni Islamist radicalism. (Click here to read his op-ed in The New York Times).

Those au fait with Mr Husain’s work – and fulminations – over the years, would know that he’s been consistent in his opinions.

In ‘The Islamist’, the 2007 book that made him a poster boy for post-radicalisation, Mr Husain memorably recounted what he saw in Jidda, Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, when he lived there in 2005.

He described the quasi-apartheid in operation in the land of two holy mosques. Contrary to the substance and spirit of egalitarian Islam, African Muslim immigrants to Saudi were forced to the lowest end of social strata. And he described Saudis’ implacable refusal to face the reality of 9/11 – namely, the nationality of the boxcutter-wielding hijackers.

So to Mr Husain’s recent NYT piece.

He speaks his mind. Consider this:

“… when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace.

“Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.”

(Tomorrow: Irish Islam, growing fastest in Europe? So how was the UK displaced?)