Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond

Article excerpt

Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond. By Simon Ross Valentine. London: Hurst, 2015. 256 pp. $34.95.

Valentine, a British Methodist pastor and teacher who taught in Saudi Arabia, has written a useful book about the desert kingdom. Most interesting is its exploration of how the monarchy is "the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism"; it "has spent as much as $100 billion to spread Wahhabism in the West," yet "America and Britain have been, and are continuing to be, implicit supporters of Wahhabism."

Valentine discusses the background of how this "unholy alliance" came about. He warns: "If the West simply ignores it, Saudi Arabia's role in international terrorism seems likely to worsen rather than conveniently disappear." This is troubling considering that "ISIS is Saudi Arabia's latest monstrous contribution to world history."

The author explores important topics, including the mutawwa, or religious police, and provides useful historical context, discussing the origins of Wahhabism, its alliance with the House of Saud, and the oil discoveries that changed everything. …

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