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The Muslim World League in Europe: An Islamic Organization to serve the Saudi Strategic Interests?

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Abstract In order to struggle against the growing influence in the Arab world of the secular nationalism promoted in Egypt by President Nasser, Saudi Arabia decided in the ‘60s to appear as a center of religious and ideological influence. The cornerstone of the hegemonic politics of Saudi Arabia for the world leadership of Islam was the creation, in 1962, of the Muslim World League. This organization was in charge of financing projects related to the development of Islam in the world. It is probably in Europe that the proselyte activities of the League are the most important. If the League holds a predominant position in the soft power politics of the Saudi kingdom, its mission is also to struggle against ideologies that are likely to threaten the stability of the regime. It funds projects of mosques construction, distributes Korans and brochures, organizes Islamic classes and conferences, hoping to create networks of clientele and of non-critical allegiances to the Saudi kingdom in the Muslim populations. The League advocates a heterogeneous salafism, which indeed resembles, at least on a dogmatic level, the salafism advocated by theologists of Saudi Arabia but dissociates itself from it on a social and a political level. Confronted to the multiplication of international risks (the Iraq War, al-Qaeda, Saudi jihadists . . .), the League takes part in a vast institutional ensemble “of protection of the Saudi throne,” like the Dar al Ifta, Council of the Saudi ulamas, which pledges allegiance to the authority and fight against anti-establishment Islamism and Islamic terrorism with its different fatwas.

Affiliations: 1: Institut d’études de l’islam et du monde musulman/Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales


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