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Sunday, October 28, 2012 

Really? Saudis are demolishing their own "holy" sites of Islam for new structures

According to the UK Independent, the Saudis, the inhabitants of the country where Islam first began, are the ones with the least respect for Mecca and Medina. The article contains some apologia and propaganda but does still tell something eyebrow raising:
One area that you might think would see Muslims speaking out with one voice is the wholesale archaeological and historical destruction of Islam’s birthplace. Over the past twenty years, fuelled by their petro-dollars and intolerant Wahabi backers, the Saudi authorities have embarked on cultural vandalism of breath-taking proportions.

Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities in Islam, are being systematically bulldozed to make way for gleaming sky scrapers, luxury hotels and shopping malls. The Saudis insist that the expansion of these two cities is vital to make way for the growing numbers of pilgrims in a rapidly expanded and inter-connected world. And they’re right.

But does it really need to be done in a way where luxury apartments and $500-a-night rooms now overlook the Ka’aba in Mecca, the one place on earth that all Muslims are supposed to be equal?

Most appallingly dozens of early Islamic sites – including those with a direct link to the Prophet himself – have been wiped off the map. The situation is so bad that the Washington based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 percent of the millennium old buildings in the two cities have been destroyed in the past twenty years.

Much of this cultural vandalism is inspired by Wahabism – the austere interpretation of Islam that is the Saudi kingdom’s official religion. Wahabis are obsessed with idol worship and believe visiting graves, shrines or historical sites that are associated with the Prophet encourages shirq (the worship of false gods). The rampant commercialism meanwhile is inspired by something much simpler – greed.
I wouldn't advise taking this claim about Wahabism at face value, but if the Saudis really are knocking down the ancient sites that were supposed to be dedicated to a man whose existence as researchers like Robert Spencer have noted is uncertain, then that just shows how Islam doesn't have much self-respect for even its own would-be history. Likewise, it shows that even the western apologists for Islam don't particularly care if the followers of the religion they're safeguarding are tossing out their holy sites with such disregard. The acts they've committed even included turning the house of a wife of Muhammed into a toilet. (Maybe because she's a woman, they're fine with that?)

Of course, the buildings they've wrecked probably didn't even have authenticity as "holy sites" to begin with, and maybe they took them down because they didn't want historians coming along someday and figuring out that they bore little convincing evidence of Muhammed's existence any more than the Koran provides. That doesn't mean they're modernizing yet though, and only time will tell when they do.

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