Muslim Silence over Saudi Demolition of Holy Site Puzzling
By Khalid Hasan

Washington, DC: Surprise has been expressed at the lack of reaction in the Muslim world at the impending demolition of the house of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) by the Saudi authorities.
An op-ed article in Toronto Star, Canada’s widely-circulated daily, by Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani-Canadian Muslim activist and broadcaster, finds it incomprehensible that while the demolition of the Babri Mosque by Hindu zealots at Ayodhya continues to remain an emotive issue with Muslims, what the Saudi authorities plan to do has evoked no protest at all.
Fatah writes, “What makes this demolition worse is the fact that the home of the Prophet is to make way for a parking lot, two 50-storey hotel towers and seven 35-storey apartment blocks; a project known as the Jabal Omar Scheme, all within a stone’s throw of the Grand Mosque. Yet despite this outrage, not a single Muslim country, no ayatollah, no mufti, no king, not even a Muslim Canadian imam has dared utter a word in protest. Such is the power of Saudi influence on the Muslim narrative.”
The writer wonders if the lack of a response is because Muslims have become so overwhelmed by the power of the Saudi riyal that they have lost all courage and self-respect. Or is it because they feel a need to cover up Muslim-on-Muslim violence, Muslim-on-Muslim terror or Muslim-on-Muslim oppression? He notes that one man who is standing up to the demolition plan is Saudi architect Dr Sami Angawi, who is leading “a one-man campaign.” to save the sacred and historic edifice. He told a London newspaper, “The house where the Prophet received the word of God is gone and nobody cares ... this is the end of history in Mecca and Medina and the end of their future.”
According to Fatah, “The cultural massacre of Islamic heritage sites is not a new phenomenon. It is said that in the last two decades, 95 per cent of Mecca’s 1,000-year-old buildings have been demolished. In the early 1920s, the Saudis bulldozed and leveled a graveyard in Medina that housed the graves of the family and companions of Muhammad. Today, the religious zealots in Saudi Arabia are not alone.
”Commercial developers have joined hands with them and are making hundreds of millions in profits as they build ugly, but lucrative high-rises that are shadowing the Grand Mosque known as the Kaaba. Today Saudi petrodollars have the ability to silence even its most vocal critics, but when all is said and done, history will render a harsh judgment on those who try to wipe out its footprints and steal the heritage of all humanity.”


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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