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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Friends or foes? Qatar, Saudi Arabia and radical Islam



French troops have been fighting Islamic fundamentalists in Mali for more than a week now, and will probably be doing so for many months – with the help, let us hope, of African and European armies. The irony of the situation is that Salafism has been financed and exported to the region (and elsewhere) by countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, officially considered partner countries to whom we sell weapons, buy oil, and who invest massively in Europe: iconic places and institutions like Paris-Saint-Germain Football Club, Harrod’s and the Shard (Europe’s highest building) in London, and the Italian fashion house Valentino are owned by Qatari investors. We should obviously feel worried about Qatar pouring cash–and ideology?–into France’s disadvantaged suburbs. It is time we mustered political will and diplomatic ingenuity to clarify our relationship with Gulf States. Let me take the opportunity to remind readers that Saudi novelist Turki al-Hamad was arrested in his country one month ago for his tweets on religion and politics.
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