Saturday, August 06, 2005

[geek][politics] Great losses to world culture, part # 52,141

The article linked to in the title describes the wholesale destruction that the Saudis are inflicting on Mecca and Medina:
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.
My sniff-test of the above-cited Gulf Institute is that they're a Right-leaning foundation - one of their in-house scholars seems to do an awful lot of writing for the Washington Times, for instance - but I still find this credible... and incredibly sad. For all the anti-Islamic sound and fury out there, we are too quick to forget(or perhaps we wish to forget) that while Europe was in the Dark Ages, it was the Islamic world that represented science, inquiry, and, yes, religious tolerance. That the Saudis should be so willfully destroying a religion's history in the name of preserving its purity is depressing, indeed. [Updated 9 August 2005 11:11 PM (PDT) - courtesy of a comment by nymole over at Agonist, a pointer to an article in the WSJ from 2004 about the same thing.]

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