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January 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 1)
Saudi Arabia with Terrorism
The Anti-Saudi Media Campaign
al-Rawwaf, Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Saudi-owned), London, England,
Oct. 30, 2001
During his latest
meeting with university directors, professors, and writers and
editors in chief of the various media outlets in Saudi Arabia,
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz brought up the malicious
media campaign that Saudi Arabia has been subjected to in the
American and European media. In choosing the members of these
two important institutions in societyuniversities and
the presshe expounded upon the important responsibility
that intellectual, cultural, and media experts must bear in
responding to and countering this media war against Saudi Arabia.
And he added that any complete discussion in the face of this
media blitzkrieg that has befallen the kingdom should include
pinpointing the sources and causes of the media campaign in
an effort to draw attention to how they were brought together.
We need to know what exactly they are claiming about the kingdom
in their spurious media campaign. And why does this campaign
comprise absurd slanders and incorrect accusations? And finally,
how is it possible to face this campaign and counter it? We
should mention the two most prominent absurdities of this media
campaign and elucidate the sophistry inherent in them. Those
who see inaccuracies in the medias claims are not only
Saudi and Arab writers, but also official sources in America
and Europe, as well as some academics and journalists in the
Western media. Indeed, an American official said, I dont
know where all these incorrect accusations have come from, as
the information we have about Saudi Arabia is the complete opposite
of what is being said.
What are the components of the media campaign against the kingdom?
This campaign outlines three points, with which its proponents
try to link Saudi Arabia indirectly to extremism and terrorism.
The first point takes the form of a critique of the cooperation
of the kingdom with the international coalition to combat terrorism,
led by the United States. The media claim the kingdom has denied
or hindered the transfer of information that could possibly
help in the war on terrorism.
As for the second point, some of the proponents of the idea
laid out in the first point try to link Wahhabism
[the Saudi-based Islamic movement whose members describe themselves
as Muwahhidun or UnitariansWPR] with
religious fanaticism and intolerance. Not all Muslims are extremists,
their argument follows, but all Muslim extremists are Wahhabis.
And from this extremism flows terrorism. This is a direct attack
on the kingdom, which is proud of its strong devotion to the
foundations of the reform movement of Sheik Muhammad ibn Abd
These idiots, a British professor specializing in
Islamic studies said to me, are writing about Wahhabism
while they are ignorant of it. Likewise, an American professor
said to me, If I were to give any of these writers only
two basic questions about Wahhabism they wouldnt know
what to answer. This is indeed a new and sad phenomenon,
which has occurred, incidentally, in the American press.
As for the third point, which supposedly ties the kingdom to
extremism and terrorism, it is a fact that some of the principle
actors in the events of Sept. 11 in the United States were Saudi.
Yet how can they propose this illogical link and disregard the
long position of the kingdom in fighting terrorism and in taking
on intellectual, political, and economic policies that attempt
to alleviate this situation? The fact of the matter is that
any fair person can agree that extremism and terrorism have
cropped up in Saudi Arabia just as in other nations. Yet those
who today are pointing their fingers at Saudi Arabia are biased
and striving to extract revenge from the kingdom and settle
accounts at the same time.
So then why this media campaign against Saudi Arabia? If it
is based on false accusations and pretenses, then it is important
that we ponder the reasons behind it. When we examine the names
and reputations of the principle writers and news organizations
that have constructed this campaign, we are able to distinguish
two principle reasons.
First, there is no doubt that some pro-Zionist pens have taken
up a stance against the kingdom since the 1970s. This is due
in part to the success of Saudi Arabias opposition to
normalization [of political relations] with Israel, which was
due to its position in the Arab and Islamic world and its ability
to rally Arabs and Muslims. Also, the kingdom shouldered a leading
responsibility in granting material, spiritual, and political
support to the Palestinian Intifada, and the struggle of the
Palestinian people in general.
Furthermore, because of the kingdoms strategic relations
with America and Europe, it enjoys a strong influence in these
nations, which has put Saudi Arabia in a position to influence
American policy and realize some gains in the interests of the
Palestinians. Thus there is no doubt that the stance of the
kingdom in support of the Palestinian cause has enraged a lot
of pro-Zionist pens that were unable in the past to levy attacks
on Saudi Arabia in such a strong and direct manner.
The second reason for this media campaign is related to secularizing
forces in America and Europe. The groups behind these forces
oppose any conservative religious systems. I assume such secularist
groups were in the mind of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah when
he said that the media campaign is a product of a deep-seated
malice toward the Islamic faith. Indeed, the proponents of this
anti-religious philosophy had wagered on the failure of the
Saudi religio-political experiment since the beginning of the
1960s, and they had asserted that the Saudi model of statehood
would not be successful because of its conservative religious
nature, predicting instability and anarchy in the kingdom. However,
the Saudi state has proved its success despite a number of problems
and has achieved an impressive rate of development.
It is possible to say in this context that some of the secularist
pens are likewise critical of Saudi Arabias prominent
position in American and European foreign policies and, like
some of the pro-Zionist pens, these secular writers have found
a big opportunity to justify an attack on the kingdom and link
it to extremism and terrorism.
How is it possible to face and offset the media campaign against
the kingdom? Since we know that the principle aim of this campaign
is to influence general Western opinion in America and Europe
and guide it against the kingdom, as well as specifically influence
decision-makers in the West, we should curb their efforts with
our own media and cultural outlets.