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”.
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