Sunday, September 24, 2006

How to Break Wahhabi Colonialism

Melik Kaylan
Wall Street Journal
18 Sep 06

Arabian fundamentalists concluded that if post-medieval progress in the world made their values unworkable, then it was the world's fault, and the world should be stopped in its tracks. The Islamists found in Afghanistan that this could be done, after a fashion: Reduce the environment to premodern conditions, and, miraculously, the ideology applies precisely - as it did wherever nature, not tamed by progress, had to be tamed by repressive social discipline. An apparently impossible predicament confronts Western policymakers: whether to uphold corrupt and often hostile tyrannies, as in Egypt and Uzbekistan - or to topple them and open the door to religious extremists applying their iron dialectic.

In such Central Asian countries as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, where sub-al-Qaeda groups now clandestinely offer the only full-fledged religious instruction available to the populace, national leaders should be encouraged instead to revive their own indigenous practices. Both in Western mosques and in the Islamic world, the reintroduction of regional forms of belief and practice should be fostered to break the extreme Islamists' strategy for indoctrination and for sowing jihad. Wahhabists should no longer expect to meet with no counterargument when, as a prelude to conversion, they accuse the locals of ignorance and godlessness. They should be confronted with a literate and self-confident Islam, deeply rooted in local history and all the more resistant to their internationalist template.

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