posted by Christopher W Holton
It has been a well-established fact that Saudi Arabia has spent tens of billions of dollars over the past 30-40 years or so proselytizing its brand of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism, but properly categorized as Salafism.
It is also a well-established fact that Salafi Islam has given rise to Jihadist organizations like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and others.
Now, Saudi Arabia is facing criticism for its activities which are being indirectly blamed for the rise the Islamic State in the Philippines and Jihadists elsewhere in Southeast Asia…
Ozy.com reported that the danger came from the spread of rigid and sectarian forms of Islam, including Salafism, which, it said, was being encouraged by the Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia.
It said the emergence of an Islamic State affiliate in the Philippines pointed to the growing impact of this strain of Islam, at the cost of local versions across Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and even countries such as Cambodia.
Minorities and even Shia Muslims are increasingly finding themselves targeted. The more rigid and sectarian forms of Islam, historically out of place in Asia, are being promoted with scholarships and charity.
The report quoted Krithika Varagur, a Jakarta-based writer who studies Salafism in Southeast Asia, as saying that Saudi Arabia was more directly funding charities and institutions meant to proselytise in Indonesia.
This includes building mosques, funding preachers, performing missionary activity and offering scholarships.
She said this had resulted in increased religious intolerance of minorities, more shariah-inspired laws and the erosion of local Muslim traditions.
“Saudi investments have permanently altered the face of Indonesian Islam by making it more conservative, fundamentalist and intolerant,” Varagur was quoted as saying by Ozy.com.
In Malaysia, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the think tank Islamic Renaissance Front said, the problem was imported by students returning from Saudi Arabia. Returning students, including hundreds of civil servants, had brought back a “sectarian attitude” that would “break society apart”, he said.