Saudi Charity Gets Vatican Medal NOT

From the link below: On May 8, Saudi royals placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Times of London, and other papers proclaiming that a charity founded by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al Saud, a nephew of King Abdullah and the world’s 13th-richest person, had been honored by the pope. Directly under a Koranic passage on tolerance, the headline declared: "Alwaleed bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation, representing Kingdom Foundation, awarded the Pontifical Medal by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican." The medal in question is a trinket sold in the Vatican bookstore and the ad contains gross factual errors. The ad is another example of how the Saudi P.R. machine works. The story concludes that the publicity stunt should not be dismissed as merely a boorish hoax. It offers a useful glimpse of the ambitions and methods of the Saudi state, which deserve to be taken seriously.

Remember, it is perfectly OK for Muslims to lie to Infidels (which they consider us to be).:cool:

This part was interesting…

But if the ad’s immediate purpose may have been to cast the appearance of a papal blessing over the growing Saudi presence on Western campuses, it also served a larger Saudi aim. **The Saudi monarchy has begun using the model of the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church to position itself as the authoritative voice of Islam worldwide. This is new. In the history of Sunni Islam, theological authority has been located in various centers, but never in the House of Saud. **

In 2006, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, in a letter to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, quoted the king as referring to his government as the “Vatican of Islam.” The implication is that Saudi Arabia is not only hallowed ground as host of the two holiest Muslim sites, but also the arbiter of Islamic orthodoxy.

The recent ad directly supports this power play. It sets up visual parallels between the pope and the king, the Vatican and Mecca. A slogan at the bottom reads, “Two great faiths, Sharing one cause: humanity.” Using its control of the *hajj *and the vast wealth it pours into foreign evangelism, funding mosques, schools, libraries, and academic centers worldwide, the House of Saud is patiently pursuing its quest to make the Saudi variant of Islam–Wahhabism, with its warrant for the murder of heretics, apostates, and infidels–the Muslim norm. This is the ad’s chilling subtext.

I was wondering if anyone was going to pick up on this. I don’t know how this is going to work given the decentralization of Islamic authority. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been challenged on several occasions by the Imams in his country for infringing on their traditional roles in theology and he has backed down. I agree with you about the chilling subtext but this is not my area of expertise. I hope other CAFers will comment on this.

Almost sounds as if the Saudi are trying for a power grab. The world is somewhat focuses on the middle east at the moment and Islam. They are trying to force people to accept them as something more than just an oil leader. To see them as the spritual head of all of Islam and to be the center voice of the Middle East countries. I don’t really see the rest of the middle east going along with it. Iran is trying to declare itself as a world player along with pakistan. Its almost like a beauty pagent. Each country is trying to push its self to the front of the pack to grab the “Crown”.

This is particularly bad timing, given the oil rebuff to President George Bush - many foreign relations experts are seeing the Saudis as part of the problem in the middle east, and not part of the solution. Their one saving grace used to be that they helped us out in tough oil spots, but this grace has gone away and the alliance may soon fold as well. This is, perhaps, a power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia - the more prominent a player the former tries to be in the region, the more the latter will try to re-exert itself. The problem seems to be that the Saudis need us more than we need them, but perhaps this is changing with growing Russian interest in setting up strategical alliances in the region (e.g. Russians just sold the Saudis arms, which is traditionally something the US has done and something which the Saudis relied on us for).

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