Originally written in author's personal log, April 2004.
Saudi Arabian civilians have been the victims of the modern brand of terrorism as early as 1995, but only since 2003 has the momentum built speed. And so the Royal Family puts forth its most powerful weapon: Islam (or at least the part of it they want to show).
The scholars have finally begun to speak up, it seems. In a Reuters article on April 23rd 2004, this "cleric" (no further reference) has said (in response to the suicide car bombing of April 21st):
"God has promised wrath, damnation, painful torture and an eternity burning in hell for he who deliberately kills a Muslim... Unjustly killing a Muslim is the gravest crime which cannot be atoned..."
"I tell all Muslims that this act is a sin, it is one of the greatest sins... Aiding, calling for, or facilitating the murder of a Muslim is tantamount to involvement in murder and all who do so will be thrown by God into the flames of hell, for so dear is the sanctity of Muslim blood."
Two things to note. First of all, this scholar is making a statement based on current affairs, and second, it’s being published. Both of these facts directly point to the fact that the government had a direct hand in them.
The “intellectual community” in the traditional Muslim world, ideally, comprises primarily of Islamic scholars. They are the defacto go-to guys for major decisions and opinions from the Islamic outlook, which forms the sole basis of the society, economics and politics of the country.
Today, however, the entire Middle East is completely void of intellectualism, a place where the educated may live, but are instructed not to talk. Unbiased criticisms against the government and open opposition are unheard of, and Friday Sermons are written down for the congregational Masjids and distributed and the Imams made to record their sermons for submission to the Ministry of Awqaf.
This comment by this unnamed "cleric" was entirely engineered by the government of Saudi Arabia, because they’re finally beginning to feel the bite of the perverse fallacy that is Al Qaeda’s terrorism and the vicious brand of sectarian Islam they practice.
Targeting civilians is unlawful. This is unequivocated, not subject to abrogation under any circumstances whatsoever, no matter what bin Laden says. Though it is noted that the Prophet Mohammed (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ended the Biblical age, crimes against humanity were commonplace in their time, and the Prophet and his Companions (Allah be well pleased with them) suffered untold amounts of torture at the hands of the pagan Arabs, and civilian murders were never legalized, even after the belated legalization of justified armed conflict several years after their expulsion from Makkah. After the September 11th attacks, when the world was looking to Islamic scholars for their say, not enough voices were heard to condemn the attack. The shocked silence of the Arab and Muslim world at large was appalling.
Now that Al Qaeda is targeting local Muslims within the Holy Land, the vast majority of whom partly or explicitly support Osama bin Laden and look up to him for standing up to America for so long, it must say something for the interesting mix that will become of the Middle East (or at least Saudi Arabia) in the years to come.
The Saudi monarchy has been slowly losing their grip on their subjects for a long time now, as the United States, their staunchest ally and primary reason why they’re in power at all, seems to sporadically and momentarily forget their ties to the Royal Family when they criticize them. With a swelling teenage and young adult population, growing idealism and the smack of reality that hits when you realize your country is a farce of the international community, the Royal Family should be worried, and I bet it is.