By France24 – Date: 14 hours ago 2 minutes
At the forefront of events caused by violent video Islamophobic “Innocence of Muslims” in a part of the Arab-Muslim world, the Salafists and their famous black flag are increasingly visible. Severely repressed by the fallen regimes of Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi, they have gained a new importance. And not only in the countries affected by the Arab revolutions.
The Islamist movement, as that Puritan minority, which advocates a strict and literal interpretation of the Koran and a return to religious practices from the time of the Prophet Muhammad, together heterogeneous currents, the more peaceful – quietest Salafism – at advocating violent jihad. It is precisely this last fringe extremist who has shown in recent months, notably in Libya and Mali, where Salafists destroyed the mausoleums backhoe Muslims in Tunisia, where they have stepped up violent attacks against artists and works deemed ungodly, and in Syria, where their presence among the rebels has been reported several times. Among the issues raised by this high fever Salafi in the Arab world, is the issue of funding.
Salafism, the “export version” of Wahhabism
On this specific issue, experts from the Arab world, diplomats and Western intelligence agencies agree to say that Saudi petrodollars are the main source of funding for this movement. “There is an important set of beams undeniable evidence leaves no doubt that the Saudi capital fund Salafist movements,” said Samir Amghar sociologist of contemporary Islam and author of the reference book “of Salafism today. sectarian movements West “(Michalon, 2011).
Since the oil shocks of the 1970s and the enrichment of Saudi Arabia, “the Saudis have done that exporting Wahhabism, the state religion of the kingdom,” recently explained FRANCE 24 political scientist Antoine Basbous, Director of the Arab countries, based in Paris. And to clarify: “Today, when we hear of Salafism in the Maghreb and in Mali, it is actually the export version of Wahhabism, since it is the Saudis who fund this movement in the world million shots. ”
Indirect financial circuits …
However, experts insist qualify the source of this funding, saying it is not always public funds or official Saudi policy of centralized state. “Traditionally, the channel of financing these movements Salafi is through Islamic charities and humanitarian organizations, or presented as such, or by members of the royal family, businessmen and religious leaders,” said FRANCE 24 Karim Sader, political scientist and consultant specializing in the Gulf. According to him, this procedure was to transnational advantage to the “Arab Spring”, to prevent the funds from being intercepted by authoritarian regimes in the fight against radical movements. A financial system often denounced by Westerners who suspect feed sectarian fundamentalist groups and potentially violent, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Another way, less opaque, favored by Saudi petrodollars, is to assist in the construction of buildings and religious centers abroad where Wahhabism is often preached, knowing that all Salafis are not Wahhabis, but all Wahhabis are Salafis. Like the capital invested in the Saudi satellite channels used to spread the Salafi discourse in the Arab countries during the past twenty years. Finally, this windfall can provide scholarships to Arab nationals invited to study the Islamic religion in the universities of the kingdom, such as Medina, Riyadh and Mecca.
“For example, the University of Medina caters mainly for foreign students, in addition to benefiting from generous scholarships granted by Saudi patrons or associations, have graciously accommodation and airline tickets so that they can return from time to time at home, “says Samir Amghar. According to the latter, the Saudi investment, which is a boon for students from modest backgrounds, is far from disinterested. “Upon graduation, the vast majority of these students fall under Wahhabi influence preach this version of Islam in their respective countries, while the best of them become employees of the kingdom,” he says.
In France, for example, the Salafist movement, described by experts as relatively young, is not directly funded from Saudi Arabia. “The financing of Salafi French is precisely through scholarships, it is a phenomenon increasingly frequent,” says Samir Amghar.
And … direct from the Arab revolutions
However, contrary to appearances, the Saudis fervent proselytizing is not only motivated by religious reasons. “Do not make the mistake of summarizing the action of Saudi Arabia or the parts in the kingdom to a mere religious dimension, because it is one component of a more Overall, “warns Mohamed Adraoui political scientist Islamic scholar, contacted by FRANCE 24.
An opinion shared by the sociologist Samir Amghar. “Even if they consider themselves the custodians of religious doctrine and have always defended Islam and generously funded a missionary and all kinds of Islamist movements, the priority is not Saudis ‘salafiser’ the Muslim world, analysis there. Their goals are more complex, in that they are primarily aimed at consolidating their political and ideological setting up client networks and allegiance to defend or even to act in the interests strategic and economic realm. ”
Thus, since the Arab revolutions, a funding channel and more direct policy was added for Islamist movements confirms Karim Sader. “The Salafists who now storefront since the fall of Arab authoritarian regimes that repressed, receive more aid official from Saudi Arabia,” he noted, citing the example of the Egyptian Salafist party al-Nour , who won nearly 24% of the vote in recent elections held in the country.
“More than surprised by the Arab revolutions, Riyadh has responded by arguing, among other things, some Salafist groups, which represent one tool among others in the Saudi foreign policy to enforce its agenda and continue to influence policy countries, “said Mohamed Adraoui.
Complex and multiple objectives
An approach that is reminiscent of the current policy of Qatar, bagman Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, which has the wind in its sails since the Arab revolutions, is reviled by the Saudis who find it too politically structured and therefore potentially dangerous for a feudal monarchy. “There is a competition between the Saudis and the Qataris in the field of finance Islamist parties, says political analyst Karim Sader. Whereas the wealthy emirate small finance the Brotherhood said more moderate and urbanized, some parts of the royal family Wahhabi discharge its petrodollars to Islamic circles and the popular strata disadvantaged remote rural areas, considered more docile, the playground of the Salafists, particularly to counteract the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. ”
Finally, a more pragmatic reason pushes the Saudis, paradoxically allied with the United States to support the Salafist movement. “After a blind eye to excessive funding by the Muslim World League, by princes or Saudi officials, a large number of Islamist and jihadist Wahhabi monarchy better controlled these types of financing after the attacks September 11, 2001, said Samir Amghar. And for good reason, discovering that the vast majority of suicide bombers were Saudis, she finally realize the limits of its policy in seeing people, she helped form in its universities and funding, indirectly or not, become unmanageable. ”
Promoting financing movements more manageable as Salafist groups in the Arab world, away from its territory, “the ruling family avoids having on its soil jihadists could turn against his power,” concludes the sociologist.
It is not surprising, therefore, to note that Saudi Arabia has been spared the turmoil of the “Arab Spring”, and more recently no protest against anti-Muslim film was recorded on its territory .