The Saudis have been arrogantly indiscreet about spending to promote Wahhabism. For example, a 2005 Freedom House report reviewed some of the extremist literature provided to the public by Saudi-funded institutions and concluded that it poses “a grave threat to non-Muslims and to the Muslim community itself.” The monarchy has also given multiple and generous grants to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the most aggressive and effective Islamist organization in the United States.
This discrepancy, a version of which exists in every Western country, demands a solution. Some Western governments have taken ad hoc, provisional steps to address it.
• In 2007, the Australian government turned down a Saudi request to send funds to the Islamic Society of South Australia to help build a new mosque. “Obviously we don’t want to see any extremist organisation penetrate into Australia,” explained then-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. Eight years later, Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks affirmed the kingdom’s intense interest in influencing Islamic politics in Australia.
• In 2008, the Saudis offered to finance construction of a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Moscow, prompting three Russian Orthodox groups to write an open letter to then-King Abdullah suggesting that his kingdom lift its ban on churches.
• In 2010, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre turned down Saudi funding for a mosque on the grounds that the Saudi kingdom lacks religious freedom.
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