Sunday, August 07, 2005

Farewell to Mecca?

The Destruction of Mecca: Saudi hardliners wipe out own heritage

Historic Mecca, the cradle of Islam, is being buried in an unprecedented onslaught by religious zealots.

Almost all of the rich and multi-layered history of the holy city is gone. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades.

Now the actual birthplace of the Prophet Mohamed is facing the bulldozers, with the connivance of Saudi religious authorities whose hardline interpretation of Islam is compelling them to wipe out their own heritage.

It is the same oil-rich orthodoxy that pumped money into the Taliban as they prepared to detonate the Bamiyan buddhas in 2000. And the same doctrine - violently opposed to all forms of idolatry - that this week decreed that the Saudis' own king be buried in an unmarked desert grave.

A Saudi architect, Sami Angawi, who is an acknowledged specialist on the region's Islamic architecture, told The Independent that the final farewell to Mecca is imminent: "What we are witnessing are the last days of Mecca and Medina."


Captain's Quarters

The voracious iconoclasm of Wahhabism and radical Islamists will do what Muslims feared the West wanted in the first place -- the destruction of the Prophet's cities. It won't take long before the Ka'aba stone itself will disappear as well. Once that happens, the Islamists will find themselves surrounded by a whole new class of enemies, enemies from the ranks of moderate Islam whose religion insists that Muslims must make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their lifetime.

The impulse against idolatry in radical Islam will provide its undoing. Already the House of Saud has bulldozed even more archaeological sites, such as the house of the grandson of the Prophet. Ironically, in the place of the buildings that can trace their origins to Mohammed and his family, the Wahhabists have erected modern buildings of steel and glass, turning Mecca from a touchstone of the faith into a bland, ordinary commerce center designed to pick the pockets of the Muslims who come on their hajj.

The destruction of Mecca and Medina will not come at the hands of the West, despite the suggestions of Tancredo and others. The Islamists have almost completed this task before any others could. In doing so, they have made themselves even more the enemy of moderate Muslims around the world and may have done mortal damage to the conservative wing of the House of Saud as well. The outrage over the the loss of the two most sacred cities in Islam will demonstrate the danger to Islam the Islamofascists present on their own. Just as in politics, the best policy for the West to pursue is to allow our enemy to complete their own destruction rather than interfere with it ourselves.