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Jul 13, 2015
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Saudi Author Turki Al-Hamad: Our Youth Are Brainwashed; We Must Dry Up ISIS Ideology at the Source

#5013 | 05:01
Source: Rotana Khalijiya TV (Saudi Arabia)

In a recent TV interview, Saudi author Turki Al-Hamad talked about the extremist discourse prevalent in Saudi Arabia, leading many of its youth to join ISIS, and said: "In order to stop ISIS, you must first dry up this ideology at the source."

Following are excerpts from the interview, which aired on Rotana Khalijiyya TV on July 13-14, 2015.

Turki Al-Hamad: Take a look at any Islamist group - they are always saying that their number one goal is to reestablish the Caliphate. The Caliphate is history. It is over and done with.

Interviewer: It is impossible to revive it.

Turki Al-Hamad: Impossible. You cannot lump together a Malaysian, a Saudi, and an Egyptian, and impose a caliph upon them, giving him absolute authorities. This is impossible, but they refuse to accept it, and they live the myth of the Caliphate. I call it a myth because it will never happen. Ultimately, they will hit the brick wall of reality. A nation state is the foundation for everything. If you make it stable and prosperous, and if this state guarantees people's rights, it can become a model state. If each state were to focus on its own affairs, the world would be a beautiful place. But if each state tries to impose its own model upon the rest of the world, disorder ensues, and Iran is an example.


We should not preoccupy ourselves with discussion about who stands behind ISIS: the US, Iran, and so on... The fact is that ISIS exists. Who serves as fuel for ISIS? Our own youth. What drives our youth to join ISIS? The prevailing culture, the culture that is planted in people's minds. It is our youth who carry out bombings in Al-Ahsa, in Qatif, in Kuwait, in Taif. They are all our own youth. You can see (in ISIS videos) the volunteers in Syria ripping up their Saudi passports. These are our youth.


The question is how we can stop ISIS. We cannot do it by fighting it, but by drying it up at the source. I am not talking about financial sources, or about its foreign sources - it's not that we need to find out who stands behind ISIS in order to fight it. I am not talking about tracing the financial sources of ISIS. All these things may be of importance, but most important of all are the ideological sources. The youth who joined ISIS were driven by the notion of martyrdom. They had an extremist religious motivation. Call them "misguided", call them "deviant," or call them whatever you like, but the truth is that they've been brainwashed with this discourse and ideology. In order to stop ISIS, you must first dry up this ideology at the source. Otherwise you are cutting the grass, but leaving the roots. You have to take out the roots. These roots are in people's minds and nowhere else.

Interviewer: How come so many Saudis fall in love with the Islamic State organization? Do you think Saudi religious thought and some preachers play a role...

Turki Al-Hamad: Absolutely.


There is an overdose of religion in Saudi Arabia. I always say that religion is like medicine: You need it for your health, but too much of it is poisonous.


The religious discourse that is prevalent here is extremist. It makes you hate others. Without even realizing it, this discourse makes you hate yourself, because you would like to live your life, but there are (too many) prohibitions. Let me give you a little example about the contradictions in our personality. A young Saudi was arrested in Dubai. He was caught drunk, in the company of a prostitute. They were caught because they were making such a racket, arguing about a certain Islamic cleric. The Saudi man was infuriated when she cursed that sheik.


Our cultural discourse is extremist, and needs to be reformed. Whenever our youth go anywhere, they hear: Don't do this, don't do that. Everything is prohibited, forbidden, or shameful. These are the notions around us. So the young man resorts to drugs - which is a problem in Saudi Arabia - or to extremism. Sometimes, he resorts to drugs and then repents and embraces extremism.


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