the light is brighter when seen through the tunnel

Essential reading - the NYT carries a powerful op-ed from a man in saudi Arabia who talks frankly about the atmosphere of religious oppression and the damage being done to his country by its Wahabi symbiosis.

The most recent government crackdown on terrorism suspects, in response to this month's car-bombing of a compound housing foreigners and Arabs in Riyadh, is missing the real target. The real problem is that Saudi Arabia is bogged down by deep-rooted Islamic extremism in most schools and mosques, which have become breeding grounds for terrorists. We cannot solve the terrorism problem as long as it is endemic to our educational and religious institutions.

Yet the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs have now established a committee to hunt down teachers who are suspected of being liberal-minded. This committee, which has the right to expel and punish any teacher who does not espouse hard-core Wahhabism, last week interrogated a teacher, found him "guilty" of an interest in philosophy and put on probation.

During the holy fasting month of Ramadan, imams around the country stepped up their hate speech against liberals, advocates of women's rights, secularists, Christians and Jews � and many encouraged their congregations to do the same. I heard no sermons criticizing the people responsible for the attacks in Riyadh, in which innocent civilians and children were killed. The reason, I believe, is that these religious leaders sympathize with the criminals rather than the victims.

I cannot but wonder at our officials and pundits who continue to claim that Saudi society loves other nations and wishes them peace, when state-sponsored preachers in some of our largest mosques continue to curse and call for the destruction of all non-Muslims. As the recent attacks show, now more than ever we are in need of support and help from other countries to help us stand up against our extremist religious culture, which discriminates against its own religious minorities, including Shiites and Sufis.

Even more essential reading - read the letter with Dan Darling's in-line commentary.

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