A poll indicates that Saudi citizens seem to find the Islamic State’s repressiveness and barbarism less objectionable than the House of Saud’s corruption.
In a New York Review of Books review of an illuminating new book, Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, by Abdel Bari Atwan, Malise Ruthven cites a poll that seems to show that Saudi citizens might prefer to be ruled by the Islamic State instead of the House of Saud.
In an online poll conducted in July 2014, a formidable 92 percent of Saudi citizens agreed that ISIS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.”
In mounting its challenge to the Saudi monarch’s quasi-caliphal claim to lead the Muslim world as “Guardian of the Two Holy Shrines” (Mecca and Medina), ISIS highlights “the royal family’s love of luxury and acceptance of corruption which, it claims, renders its members ideologically and morally unfit for the task.”
Not to mention the House of Saud’s notoriously tacky taste, including mosques.
The values and hubris of the Saudi dynasty are exemplified by its astounding exploitation, not to say desecration, of Mecca’s holy city, where the world’s largest hotel (seventy restaurants and 10,000 bedrooms) is under construction in the dynasty’s favorite wedding-cake style—with five of its forty-five stories reserved for exclusive use by the royal family. As oil prices decline the princes and their friends expect to benefit by “catering to the increasingly high expectations of well-heeled pilgrims from the Gulf.”
By appropriating Wahhabism’s iconoclastic rhetoric, along with its anti-Shia theology, ISIS challenges the legitimacy of the Saudi rulers as guardians of Islam’s holy places far more effectively than any republican movement.
It’s a sad commentary on the House of Saud when its citizens would prefer to be ruled by the Islamic State, which is even more repressive. It’s as if Saudi citizens are saying, too, that they would trade the House of Saud’s corruption for the Islamic State’s barbarism.
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.