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(From The Statesman (India))
Wahhabism Under Pressure Within And Without By SWAGATO GANGULY It would be a mistake to think that opposition to the Saudi regime is confined to radical Islamists of the ilk of Osama bin Laden. Of late, liberal voices are being heard in its media, testing the limits of permissible expression by broaching openly the question why the country is beholden of extremist values.
These voices have been spurred by the terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and subsequent international publicity, as well as by incidents such as the one that took place in Mecca on March 11 last year, when the mutawa stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not turned out in the "correct" attire of abayas, leading to the deaths of 17 girls. Signs of dissent The liberals are attacking the central institutions through which religious scholars exercise their stranglehold on Saudi civic life. These are the sharia law, control over education and media, and the extraordinary powers given to the mutawa. Education in Saudi Arabia, for example, is mostly religious; there is little room for technical, foreign languages or secular humanities subjects. A tenet of Saudi religious …