Reverse Swing: Christmas in the Ummah

The hypocrisy of the Islamic world is laid bare once more

Written by Tunku Varadarajan | Published: December 27, 2015 12:20 am
there’s not a single Christian church, or Hindu temple, or Sikh gurdwara, or Buddhist monastery, or — LOL — synagogue on the soil of Saudi Arabia. There’s not a single Christian church, or Hindu temple, or Sikh gurdwara, or Buddhist monastery, or — LOL — synagogue on the soil of Saudi Arabia.

We live in a world of toxic double standards.

The Saudis export their theo-imperialist brand of Islam to murderous effect — as Paris, London, New York, Madrid, Mumbai, Bali, Raqqa, Beirut, Timbuktu, Tunis, Nairobi, Garissa, Bangkok and San Bernardino can testify. And yet, they prohibit the public practice of any faith other than Islam on their own territory.

I apologise to anyone whose city or town I’ve omitted from the preceding catalogue of Wahhabi barbarism. I’m allowed only 600 words by my editors. I could always put together another column comprising 600 places where mass murder could be traced financially, theologically or demographically to Saudi Arabia — a column without verbs, prepositions or adjectives. Just place-names drenched in blood, shed in the name of jihadi Islam.

There are Saudi-funded mosques and madrasas and deceptively benign evangelical institutions, as well as Saudi-moneyed apologists, all over Europe and North America (not to mention Asia and Islamic Africa); but there’s not a single Christian church, or Hindu temple, or Sikh gurdwara, or Buddhist monastery, or — LOL — synagogue on the soil of Saudi Arabia.

To gauge the ravenous exceptionalism of Saudi bigotry, be aware that there are 257 Christian churches in Pakistan — yes, THAT Pakistan — going by the Wikipedia entry, ‘List of Churches in Pakistan’. (Wikipedia has flaws, and this figure is likely to be far from exact; but I’m certain that it’s in the ballpark. The number is much higher than I’d expected. Long live the Indian subcontinent and its tenacious — if increasingly beleaguered — traditions of tolerance that predate 20th- and 21st-century Islamism.)

These Pakistani churches include four in Abbottabad (a.k.a. Osamaville, where Pakistan extended hospitality — or collusion, or colossally improbable incompetence… take your pick — to the world’s most wanted terrorist); 10 in Multan (which Indians regard primarily as the venue of Virender Sehwag’s ‘jihadi’ triple century, but which is, in fact, Ground Zero for Wahhabi wackos in the Land of the Pure); and a breathtaking 30 in Quetta, the Afghan Taliban’s home-away-from-home. (Quetta — poor, benighted Quetta, so romantic, yet so fallen from grace. You will, one day, if there’s a God, be the capital of an independent Baluchistan.)

But back to Islamist double standards — particularly those to do with Christians, since this is the Christmas season. At a time when we’ve had to put up with much breast-beating from Western liberals and (Saudi-funded) Muslim community leaders over the “discomfort” felt by Muslims in the West as they assert their (entirely unthreatened) right to wear the hijab in London or New York, we’ve had news of the banning of the celebration of Christmas in the Sultanate of Brunei.

Why the ban? Because the sultan — a man wealthier than Croesus (sorry, Sultan, for the non-Islamic reference, but I couldn’t have said “richer than the King of Saudi Arabia,” because you’re not) — felt that Christmas in his Muslim “un-Freedonia” would weaken the practice of Islam.

This is a man who owns a great, gaudy raft of properties in the Christmas-celebrating West, and whose family has a history of sexual debauchery, some of which, undoubtedly, violates the norms of the very religion he seeks to safeguard by his banning of Christmas.

The hypocrisy must, surely, be apparent to him, as it must be to the Saudis whose princelings frolic, sharia-free, in London, craving sanctuary from their own hideous land. Theirs is a holy war not just against Christmas, but against all tolerance; and it is a war that will determine our world’s future.

Some would call it a clash of civilisations. I’d just say, “Merry Christmas”.

The writer is the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Follow Tunku on Twitter @tunkuv

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More From Tunku Varadarajan
  1. T
    Tahir Ahmed
    Sep 9, 2016 at 7:34 am
    First things first, Saudia is not Islam. and for your information their state religion is also not Islam but Wahabbism. and add to that , Wahabbism does not represent Islam. Wahabbism is not Islam. So next time you put an article on Islamic ummah, use saudia manufactured Al-Saud ummah, not muslim ummah.
    1. R
      Jan 17, 2016 at 7:47 am
      Oh please, aren;t there enough churches by now? I wonder why this man should be arguing the case for churches in the Islamic world? They haven;t declared themselves to be ''secular''..they are Islamic. If the Christian world so chooses, they can also stop being secular. Thsi tried argument trotted out by westerners about how there are no churches in Saudi Arabis..there is a simpel aner...THEy are a Muslim nation. They can choose what they will allow and what they will not, just as the western world chooses. Let's stop this Islam and Saudi bashing. This is NOT something worhty of pickign fights with Saudi Arabia about. There are many more useful ones. I doubt all those workers beign mistreated can really be helped by building CHIRCHES in Saudi or those Saudo women who cannot drive. Of course, by your suggestion, you are probably arguing for conversion to Xtianity, which seems to be your pet theme. But that's the nub, the Saudis want to be dared sure htose evengelists don't get their dirty hands on their Islamic potion. so churches are not to be found in Saudi. Live with it.
      1. S
        Dec 27, 2015 at 5:27 pm
        In secular country we need only public schools for all kid that way all of them grow up as indians. For religeous teaching they can have three hours week end schools. Having separate madrasa and Christian schools, they grow up with bias. Having one school for all kids grow up to understand each other and creates patriot ic deshabhima. Saudi Arabia will never change. There is mosque next to kashiwa vishvanath temple. It is every very where like this in india. Even in small town mosque is build purposely next to the temple. I hve seen it.
        1. H
          Dec 27, 2015 at 8:31 am
          this article seems more like a typical "TROLL RANT" in the comments section than a well reasoned article..
          1. S
            Dec 27, 2015 at 7:10 am
            Another confusion or ignorance. Wahabism already in india and well imilated in thought and practice. Deoband school is one such representative. We had wahabi movement against British if can remember. I think lack of knowledge of Muslim sect and movement and present day crisis multiplying confusion. We blame governments which gave so little knowledge through pedagogy to us. Wikipedia is also not helping us. Need scholars to engage with in proud way so stereotyping with conception can be minimised. This may go long way to further our understanding of war and peace and also of each other.
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