There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them, suggested George Orwell.
While lavish foreign funding from the Gulf has fuelled the growth of ultraconservative Islamist parties in the wake of the Arab revolts, Tariq Ramadan (left) notes, the Salafists’ rise is the result of a classic divide-and-rule strategy – by western democracies.
The west has forged a “strategic alliance with the Salafist literalists” and conservative Arab states to maintain control of the region, marginalize reformist Islamists and promote sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, he writes:
1. These countries and their Salafist ideology are first and foremost concerned with political power and religious credibility. They focus — in a conservative and rigid way — on political appearances and social and juridical details; but from an economic standpoint they are liberals, capitalists who care little about the Islamic ethical reference within the neo-liberal world economic order.
2. Promoting the Salafist trends within Muslim majority societies helps both to create divisions from within these societies and to prevent the potential reformist trends and movements critical of western policies (reformist Islamists, leftists or even some traditional Sufi circles) from gaining immediate and natural religious credibility, and even a strong majority within their societies.….
3. The Salafist resurgence is creating trouble and tension within the Sunni tradition and between Sunni and Shiite Muslims as well, as the latter are considered as deviant by the literalists. The Sunni-Shiite fracture in the Middle East is a critical factor in the region especially in light of western and Israeli threats against Iran and the ongoing repression in Syria. …..
“Protecting some oil-rich states as well as their religious ideology while dividing any potential unifying political forces (such as alliances between secular and reformist Islamists or a popular front against Israeli policy) necessitates undermining the Muslim majority countries from within,” says Ramadan, a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.
Hmmmmmm. The latest case of Orwell’s famous adage?