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Topic initiated on Wednesday, April 4, 2007  -  7:35 AM Reply with quote
The Holy Battle Of Ideas

The quest to find the roots of Islamist militancy led the Saudis to undergo a healthy process of critical self-evaluation. The end result was a comprehensive and multi-dimensional campaign that is both a security operation and a public-awareness program.Much more than winning a conventional war, the Saudis realized that they can prevail only by presenting a more hopeful vision for the future of Saudi youth, one in stark contrast to the apocalyptic and foreboding scenario offered by militants. Using religious principles and nationalist ethos, the government has embarked on what it describes as an unprecedented campaign with the inescapable message that Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and mercy.

Shortly following the 2003 attacks, authorities began to address the political, social and economic conditions that had allowed Islamist radicalism and by extension, militancy, to flourish in the kingdom. Although some Saudis refuse to acknowledge the prevalence of extremism among their youth, convinced instead that the problem is not homegrown, rather fueled by groups based outside the kingdom, the extensive initiatives indicate that the government has no illusions about the pervasiveness of the problem.

Given the vital role Islamic clerics and Imams play in Saudi society, the government took measures to curb the extremist rhetoric coming from some religious authorities. Hundreds of radical imams and clerics were dismissed, others were "retrained," and those who supported terrorism were imprisoned. Three prominent clerics were arrested for their support of terrorism, who then recanted their views on Saudi television for millions to see.

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