- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Saudi Arabia is pushing back against reports that it will fund a $1 billion project to build 560 mosques in Bangladesh.

A Fox News Channel story published Wednesday on Saudi Arabia injecting massive amounts of cash into the promotion of Wahhabism is now being denied by the Kingdom. Although the network reached out to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in D.C. to no avail, the nation’s Ministry of Culture issued a statement after the story spread.

“This is simply not true,” said Dr. Awwad Alawwad, Minister of Culture and Information. “Saudi Arabia has never committed to pay Bangladesh one Billion Dollars for the construction of Mosques. Any commitment by the Saudi government of this nature would only be considered after receiving an official request from the host country’s government. When such an agreement is finalized there would definitely be an official announcement by both countries.”

Fox’s report shed light on religious minorities in Bangladesh that are worried such a project — first reported by BenarNews on April 21 — will have a dangerous effect.

Daniel Pipes, historian and founder of the Middle East Forum, said Saudi Arabia is engaged in a long-term strategy to transform cultures across the globe. “[Saudi Arabia] invested in buildings, organizations, media and people,” Mr. Pipes told Fox.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars later, Wahhabism is a powerful global force. One can see in many regions the impact of this decades-long campaign, from the United States to the Balkans to Pakistan to Indonesia. The Saudis continue to pour vast resources into building further Wahhabi infrastructure in multiple countries.”

The expert said a Bangladeshi project of that size and scope is emblematic of a “successful global campaign.”

Abdur Rashid, chairman of the Islamic Studies department at Dhaka University, had similar observations for BenarNews on April 21.

“Experience shows that the Saudi ideology of Wahhabism spreads incitement against other faiths,” Mr. Rashid said. “People of Bangladesh are peaceful and they are respectful to all religions. … The government will have to be careful so that violent Wahhabism is not expanded.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide