Saudi Arabia will stop funding mosques abroad, according to the former Saudi minister of justice, Mohammed Bin Abdul-Karim Issa.
As reported by the Middle East Eye which picked up the reports in Arabi21.com and the Swiss paper Le Matin Dimanche, Saudi Arabia plans to establish local administrative councils for each mosque they are funding in foreign countries. In cooperation with local authorities, the mosques will be handed over to “secure hands.”
Regarding Saudi’s mosque in Geneva, Issa said, “The time has come to hand over the Geneva Mosque to a Swiss administrative council that represents Muslims in the area. It should have an elected cleric.”
Other mosques will follow suit.
Last week, Issa led an Arab delegation to Auschwitz, joining Jewish leaders commemorating the the 75th anniversary of its liberation of the infamous Nazi concentration camp and honoring Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Issa claimed the decision to hand Saudi’s mosques abroad over to local was made for “security reasons.” However, such claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Saudi Arabia has been in the business of exporting its extremist and terror-supporting Wahhabist Islamist ideology for decades. One of the main funnels for this ideology has been through funding mosques worldwide.
Security issues are no more of a problem that they have been since the kingdom began funding foreign mosques. Moreover, mosques do not seem to be in the crosshairs of terrorists and it is unlikely that they will be in the future.
Rather, we can only hope that Saudi Arabia is living up to its promise to promote a “moderate Islam.
In 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman stated,
“We want to go back to what we were, to a moderate Islam that is open to the world, open to all the religions,” the heir to the throne told a meeting of the Future Investment Initiative.
“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today. We will end extremism very soon.”
In 2018, Saudi Arabia banned teachings and any other influence of the Islamist organization from its schools’ curriculum. The move includes firing teachers who are sympathetic to the Brotherhood’s program for political revolution.
Most recently, Muslim World League extended an invitation to an a Jewish-Israeli delegation to visit Saudi Arabia, an invitation which was accepted.
“For the first time, a Jewish delegation will visit Saudi Arabia in response to the Muslim World League invitation,” said Issa, who is the Saudi Secretary-General of the League.
However, the reality is that the years of Saudi funding of foreign mosques — with their requisite extremist imams — have created a monster that Saudi Arabia may not be able to contain, even with this latest move.
We can hope that “local authorities” — either local Muslim leadership or municipal officials — will use this opportunity to steer these mosques away from extremism.
However, in the meantime, it appears that Saudi Arabia is cutting its losses and trying to absolve themselves of responsibility for what they spent years creating and funding.