December 11, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 448

Saudi Columnist: 'Our Youths Must be Reeducated… Violence Must be Discarded'

December 11, 2002
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 448

In an article in the Saudi daily Okaz, Saudi columnist Abdullah Abu Sameh argued that Saudi Arabia must challenge the fanatic ideology which has infected the youth with a false interpretation of Islam. The following is his article: [1]

The Extremists have Corrupted the Minds of Our Youth
"The recent terrorist attack in Kuwait in which an American soldier and two assailants were killed, and another American soldier was wounded, must be subjected to a careful study. It was strong evidence of the deep influence exerted by the extremist concept of Jihad on certain youths, as a result of which, [they] have lost the power to think rationally."

"The extremist groups have stuffed their minds with a fanatic ideology and a faulty interpretation of Jihad and Da'wa in Islam, whereas, Jihad in reality means self-defense. They have been taught that it is a tool to oppress and dominate others."

"These misguided youth were made to believe in the ideology of dividing society into believers and non-believers, and hold that every other idea amounted to apostasy. They were taught not to accept any other viewpoint other than [the one] held by their own group, and that the whole world is full of infidels and heretics."

"The extremists have inculcated brutality, violence, and killing in the minds of their followers who blindly and thoughtlessly go on fighting without assessing the real power of their enemy."

"Osama bin Laden, in his well-known manifesto, declared war on the unbelievers [disregarding] their power and holding on to this partisan stand against them. So did his followers in Kuwait who rushed to death after committing the crime. They have spread confusion and instability in the society that needs cohesion and stability at this time."

"Writer Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed in his article appearing in Asharq Al-Awsat of September 12 titled 'September 11: errors of militancy and indoctrination' sharply criticized the extremism that has permeated the ranks of our youth."

Sept. 11 - Not Out of Economic Concerns
"The involvement of so many Saudis in the 9/11 attacks, a significant number of them languishing in Guantanamo Bay prison and those detained in Afghanistan, has astonished many Saudi citizens, some of whom could hardly believe the fact."

"It is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is better to confront the fact… than to [later make] excuses. Al-Rashed said that he had read and heard a lot of justifying explanations about the phenomenon of violence among our youth, and found that most of them were weak arguments, especially those attributed to economic [concerns]."

"'Saudi Arabia is passing through hard economic conditions but it is in a much better position than other states.' 'We should know that many of the Al-Qa'ida members hailed from well-to-do families. So what was the motive? In short, the cause of the radicalization of the youth was the culture of violence that has infiltrated religious education deviating from the traditions of the conservative and peace loving Saudi society. Thus politicizing Da'wa and then militarizing it, contrary to its role in the Kingdom for the past seventy years,' Al-Rashed noted."

"Everybody would agree with Al-Rashed that the Da'wa was mixed with alien extremist ideologies with the aim to use it as means of attaining power. They have misinterpreted the concept of Jihad and other precepts of Islam, transforming them into a philosophy of fanaticism and hatred."

"Religious Literature Introduced a Culture of Violence to Saudi Arabia"
"When the Afghan war against the Communists began, the extremists wore a religious mask to win over Saudi society's participation in the war, firstly through donations and voluntary humanitarian services, and later on through volunteer military operations. Al-Rashed said that, 'The Afghan War became a popular struggle fed by religious literature that introduced a culture of violence for the first time in the Saudi society. The call for Jihad became the order of the day and the society was politicized through preachers in mosques and universities, something unknown before. The golden rule was further broken when young men were allowed to go abroad to fight against the Soviets.'"

"Our Youths Must be Reeducated"
"'What is to be done, after the worst has happened?' Al-Rashed answers his own query; 'It is not easy to restore innocence to a society damaged by a harmful culture, a society considered most immune in the Arab world. The remedy lies in the same malady: culture,' he concludes."

"This is the most apt diagnosis of the problem of our society. To regain its peace and innocence and reconciliation with the world, our youths must be reeducated and violence - a concept alien to our society - must be discarded."

"This can be achieved by educating the youth. Perhaps, a new subject of modern culture may be added to the education system."

"We have to remove the wrong interpretations from our literature, and return to the pure Da'wa of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) employing good counsel and sound religious education. A Muslim's duty is to call people to goodness rather than gaining control over them."

[1] Published in English in the Saudi Gazette, on October 18, 2002; taken from Okaz, date not mentioned.

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