Monday, April 11, 2005

The Kingdom of Non-Deviant Thinking

Prince Abdullah addressed the board meeting of the King Abdul Aziz Public Library in Riyadh yesterday. He used the opportunity as a platform to establish the important role of the library in broadening knowledge and "obliterating ignorance" throughout the Kingdom.

The library's supervisor, Faisal Muammar, estimated the number of volumes at more than 1.2 million books. He also described the library's latest and most ambitious project: publication of a Saudi Arabian Encyclopedia. The first volume, about Region Seven -- Riyadh territory -- will be ready this year. There was no mention of how many volumes will comprise the series, though Prince Abdullah did say
it would serve as an authentic reference on the Kingdom. It will contain information on every region of the Kingdom, its antiquities, historical sites, natural and agricultural resources, ancient history, culture and traditions as well as achievements in health, education, industry and communication.

Depends on what you mean by "authentic" perhaps. The Cambridge Dictionary of American English has this definition: "being what it is claimed to be;" and suggests 'genuine' as a synonym. Somehow it doesn't seem likely that anyone outside the Kingdom will be ready to apply this adjective to the Saudi encyclopedia. Though perhaps outsiders might discuss slavery (abolished in 1961), or the fact that the number of imported foreign workers is about twenty five percent of the total population. Many of them come from the poorest of the poor countries and work as indentured servants. Sometimes they get paid, sometimes they don't. The latter is called slavery. Read the whole report.

Meanwhile, Prince Abdullah has a new idea -- new to him, at any rate, though ageless in its essentials. Every other attempt in history to control thinking has failed utterly. Then again, history is not a strong point in this benighted land. What doesn't fit is obliterated.

Crown Prince Abdullah yesterday called for measures to combat deviant thoughts by carrying out cultural and educational programs, explaining the true teachings of Islam and driving home the merits of moderation and tolerance.

"This country, which is honored to serve the two holy mosques, cannot tolerate any aberration of the fundamentals of Islam."

???"explaining the true teachings of Islam and driving home the merits of moderation and tolerance"??? Excuse me? The oxymoron of the day perhaps? By all means let us drive home the merits of moderation and tolerance. There's no point in hanging around where you don't speak the language. Someone get the chauffeur and give these ladies a ride back.

In one place the Prince is absolutely correct. A little "aberration" and the whole cardboard House of Saud will collapse. The clan will have to grab their already-packed-and-waiting luggage and head for France...imagine the scramble for seats on the airplane.

Can you see it now? Nervous Princes asking themselves "what would Mohammed do?" Yes, that's correct: he'd take the money and run.


Brian H said...

Now if we can just get them to describe and designate Wahabbism as "aberrated' . . . .