The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Saudi Civil War - up another notch 

When I spoke last time about the high levels of public safety in Saudi Arabia, I did exclude terrorist activity. However two events since then have seemed to mock my words; the shooting of a German national last week as he came out of a bank, and the most recent atrocity in Alkhobar.

Saudi commandos rescue hostages

This time we didn't use the "Keystone Cops", we used an elite commando unit. And while the operation was as successful as such operations can be, three terrorists still managed to escape from a single surrounded building. Not that that will be a surprise to anyone. There's a quota, you see.

And, to compound this bad news:-

- the vilest murders were committed on non-Muslims in the name of Islam

- the victims were expatriates, our guests, whom we are supposed to protect

- the expatriates worked in oil, the one and only sector of our economy that actually makes money for us, rather than spends it

- if those expatriates chose to leave (and who could blame them?), then that sector will grind to a halt - we are a nation of managers, not workers

- the West, faced with a loss of its oil supplies and a possible world recession, would be sorely tempted to come in and occupy the facilities. Again, who could blame them?

- our country could be the next beneficiary of the United States' unique approach to "winning hearts and minds". However we'd only have ourselves to blame.

I'd like to be able to say that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Saudis totally condemn this terrorism. Sadly, that is just not true. There is a substantial minority, if not verging on a majority, who applaud any action that discomfits a royal family whom they perceive to be "unreliable" in religious terms, and to be too friendly with the US. So they support any action against them, regardless of who dies. And I see this support for the terrorists all around me, both in furtive conversations and more overt celebrations, the smiling jokes among friends, the victory fist punched in the air.

So while it would be nice to see Madrid-style mass demonstrations in the streets of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Makkah, Madinah, condemning this terrorism in all its manifestations, forget it, it's not going to happen. We have other priorities. Hitler was obsessed with the racial purity of Greater Germany. We are obsessed with the religious purity of the Arabian Peninsula.

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