One of the unusual highlights of the recent G20 Summit was the TV video footage of President Barack Obama bowing down to the King of Saudi Arabia. Now it’s Easter, so naturally all our thoughts should turn towards Mecca. The slow decline of Christianity and the rise of Islam is never more obvious than during this great festival of the Western world … Easter. The season got off to a flying start when it was revealed that a primary school in Sheffield, England, was forced to drop its students “Easter Bonnet Parade” because of pressure from Muslim parents. Of the 240 students at the school only 35 are Muslims. But being the meek England of today rather the England of yore, succumbing to the political correct brigade, comes almost naturally. The school’s previous head teacher, Julia Robinson, had been forced to quit by the same Muslim extremist thuggery because she had dared organised a “multi-faith assembly”.
The story, reported in London’s Sunday Express, triggered my Easter desire to have a quick gander at what’s been going on recently in the ever-so-pious “Land of the Two Holy Mosques”, Saudi Arabia. This is a country that has only existed for 77 years and is still ruled by the sons of its original founder, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud. It’s extreme version of Islam, the Wahhabi cult, finances and inspires most of the twitchiness and violence emanating from places with a predominately Islamic bent. Saudi Arabia’s third king, Faisal, who was assassinated by his nephew, famously once said “In one generation we came from riding camels to driving Cadillacs. The way we are spending money today, I fear we will soon be riding camels again.”
But camels were the last thing on Khamisa Sawadi’s (75) mind last month when she was sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in prison. The widow was arrested by the Saudi Religious Police in al-Chamil, North of Riyadh, for “mingling with men”. The court heard that two men aged 24 had called at her house. One, her nephew, had dropped off 5 loaves of bread. Saudi women are not permitted to mix with men who are not directly related to a woman. Mrs Sawadi told the religious court that she considered her nephew as her son, for she had breast-fed him when he was a baby. The court found that she failed to produce evidence of her breast-feeding, and sentenced her according to Sharia Law. The case puts a whole new emphasis on the Christian tradition of breaking bread.
Curiously, a Saudi man has divorced his wife via a SMS text message. The groundbreaking scheme of using a mobile phone instead of a family court occurred when a Saudi man, who was in Iraq for recreational jihading, decided to simply text the tradition Muslim Sharia-law-utterance “ I divorce thee” three times. A court official in the city of Jeddah promptly completed the legal process.
Jeddah is the port-city of Saudi Arabia which services the holy-city of Mecca, about 73 kilometres inland. British architect Sir Norman Foster, the man who rebuilt the dome of the Reichstag in Berlin and the green Gherkin building in London has secured the contract to rebuild Mecca. The Haram Mosque can presently hold 900,000 followers but Sir Norman’s brief is to increase the size of the building, and square which is home of the Black Kaaba, to allow for 1.5 million Muslims visitors.
As well as the rebuilding of Mecca the Royal Saudi Government is to spend vast amounts of petrodollars building a 2400 kilometre railway network using the French military firm Thales and the Saudi Bin Laden Group. The plans include connecting the holy cities of Medina and Mecca to the grid.
For many of us the only early visual images of Saudi Arabia were from the film Lawrence of Arabia in which Lawrence was endlessly going about the desert blowing up the railway line to Medina. Oh well, it had to start somewhere!
It would be difficult to find in the religious world any mighty building works or engineering projects that involved the expansion, or creation of, new churches, cathedrals, temples or stupas to the extent that is occurring in Islam. We and other non-Muslim nations watch our faiths, cultures, manners and customs shrink as we bow to the demands of Muslim followers to bend constantly to their wishes and demands. Stopping children parading in their Easter bonnets in England is unacceptable. Flogging 75 year old women for “mingling with men” is unacceptable. Divorcing wives via SMS text messages is unacceptable. Financing terrorism from Saudi petrodollars is unacceptable. It is about time Western leaders, starting with Barack Obama, instead of bowing, told these Saudi’s and their Wahhabi thugs just where to get off!