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Creating Frankenstein: The Impact of Saudi Export of Ultra-Conservatism in South Asia (Part 1)

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By James M. Dorsey
Introduction
Continued doubts about the longevity of the Saudi ruling family are fuelled by its Faustian bargain with Wahhabism - a conser vative, intolerant, discriminatory and anti-pluralistic interpretation of Islam.[1]
It is a bargain that has produced one of the largest dedicated public diplomacy campaigns in history.  Estimates of Saudi Arabia’s spending on support of ultra-conservative strands of Islam, including Wahhabism, Salafism and Deobandism, across the globe range from $70 to $100 billion. Saudi largesse funded fund mosques, Islamic schools and cultural institutions, and social services as well as the forging of close ties to non-Wahhabi Muslim leaders and intelligence agencies in various Muslim nations. In doing so, Saudi Arabia succeeded in turning s largely local Wahhabi and like-minded ultra-conservative Muslim worldviews into an influential force in Muslim nations and communities across the globe.[2]
The campaign is not simply a product of the mar…

Creating Frankenstein: The Impact of Saudi Export of Ultra-Conservatism in South Asia (Part 2)

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A Case in Point
The history of Tashfeen Malik is a case in point. Her experience and that of her family is indicative of the kind of tensions adherence to Wahhabism's narrow mindset can foster.  Malik moved with her parents to Saudi Arabia when she was a toddler. The two decades in Saudi Arabia persuaded the family to abandon their Sufi practices that included visiting shrines, honouring saints and enjoying Sufi trance music  - practices rejected by the kingdom's Wahhabism‎. The change sparked tensions with relatives in Pakistan, whom the Maliks accused in Wahhabi fashion of rejecting the oneness of God by revering saints. Syed Nisar Hussain Shah, an academic at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Malik’s native Pakistani town of Multan, whose madrassas are known as jihadist nurseries, where she studied Pharmacology, recalls Malik seeking assistance because her conservative norms clashed with more the comparatively more liberal values of her dormitory mates. “She told me, ‘my par…