“Extremism” on the Rise in Zanzibar–Thanks to Saudi Money and Islamic Charities
The Financial Times has an important article about the influx of Salafi Islam in the island region of Tanzania known as Zanzibar.
The article doesn’t draw any of the correct conclusions about what is happening there, but it contains enough clues to build a picture.
For folks who don’t remember, Tanzania is one of the East African nations where the US embassy was bombed by Al Qaeda in August of 1998.
Zanzibar is an island off Tanzania’s coast in the Indian Ocean. It has been somewhat of a tourist destination–at least up to now. Up to now because Salafi Islam is making its presence felt in Zanzibar.
That manifests itself in several ways, but here’s one from the opening of the FT.com article that is particularly intriguing:
Under the peach arches of Al-Noor charitable agency for the needy just outside Stone Town in Zanzibar, a 24-hour Islamic radio station broadcasts religious guidance.
Female tourists should wear headscarves and cover their knees, says Mohamed Suleiman Ali, director of Radio Al-Noor, echoing the opinions voiced on radio. “It’s too early to fight for an Islamic state because there are several stages to that, but a lot of things are being done contrary to the teachings of Islam,” he says. “There’s no social responsibility; the government keeps producing more [social] freedom.”
Over the years our organisation has built numerous islamic centres, masjids, madrasas (Qur’an schools), and waterwells.
Keep in mind that madrasas are notorious in other places, particularly Pakistan, for being incubators of Jihad.
We also distribute Zakat…
Once again, zakat is a major concern for Western Civilization because it can be and is in fact used to fund Jihad. We don’t know that Al Noor is distributing zakat for Jihad in Zanzibar, but other Islamic charities have and Jihad is definitely becoming a problem in Zanzibar.
Al Noor operates with a vision to promote the islamic way of life…
Al-Noor charity, set up four years ago with money from private donors in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, is among a clutch of new foreign-funded religious institutions to increase its investment on the island. As well as the radio, it has established a mosque, internet rooms and a nationwide network of madrassas. It plans to build more, and every year pays for students and teachers alike to study in Sudan, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.
Academics estimate that Saudi Arabia – where Wahhabi Islam is practised – alone spends $1m a year on Islamic institutions in Zanzibar.
Sending students from Zanzibar to study in Saudi Arabia, genocidal, terrorist-sponsoring Sudan and Abu Dhabi is essentially a means of entrenching Wahhabi Islam in Zanzibar.
And even Muslims in Zanzibar know it:
“Wahhabi madrasas are just starting – they are now many and Saudi funds are spreading their work – they have nice buildings, they are well off and well organised; they preach and convince the parents to come there, so the effect of the madrassa is very powerful,” says Idrissa Ahmad Khamis, a teacher who is from the Sufi tradition, a mystical form of Islam opposed by more literalist Wahhabis or Salafists.
Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations draw their thinking from Wahhabism. “We’re not happy with other sects like [Sunni hardline] Wahhabi – people who go to countries like Saudi Arabia; when they come back they want to change everything,” he says.
None of this is new or surprising. In fact, this system was detailed in the 9/11 Commission Report years ago. Yet it continues and no one is lifting a finger to stop it. Saudi Arabia is our “ally” so military action is out of the question. Don’t expect the State Department to even mention it however. The list of former and retired State Department diplomats who are now on retainer with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is long.
If this is what is happening in Zanzibar…where else is it happening?