Pure as the driven snow

Speaking of Saudi Arabia

“The essence of Wahhabism is purity,” says Lawrence Wright, author of a Pulitzer-prize-winning book about al-Qaeda. “They are only interested in purification – and that’s what makes them so repressive.”

So if you get a nineteen-year-old girl who gets herself raped fourteen times by seven men, that’s a lot of dirt that needs purifying. It takes 90 lashes, and if she yips about it, it takes 200.

I looked at the role of Wahhabi literature – used in Saudi schools and exported round the world – in promoting suspicion and hatred of non-believers. The Saudi ambassador in Washington, Adel Jubeir, assured me a series of steps had been taken to reform the country’s educational system to instil values of tolerance. Saudi educationalist Hassan al-Maliki remains to be convinced. “They are teaching the students,” he told me, “that whoever disagrees with Wahhabism is either an infidel or a deviant – and should repent or be killed.”

That’s purification for you. You have just two choices: agree with us (by agreeing with us in the first place or else by repenting and agreeing with us) or be killed. Thus pure societies come into existence: by killing everyone who refuses to agree with the locally-prevailing system of purity. Kind of makes you fond of dirt, doesn’t it.

7 Responses to “Pure as the driven snow”