Saudi Reformers Face Challenges From All Sides

June 9, 2005

Source: The New York Times

On June 9, 2005 The New York Times reported, "The Saudi writer Turki al-Hamad wants to shake the younger generation attracted by militant Islam. His new novel, a thinly disguised sketch of four Sept. 11 hijackers, seeks to warn those weighing suicide missions. 'Put your luggage aside and think,' reads the opening page to the book, called 'The Winds of Paradise' and just released in Arabic. 'I wrote the latest book just to say that the problem is not from outside, the problem is from ourselves - if we don't change ourselves, nothing will change,' Mr. Hamad said...After Sept. 11, 2001, the push toward reform in the Middle East gained momentum with the recognition in some quarters that stifling political and economic conditions helped spawn extremism. Reform advocates like Mr. Hamad live under threat but have also gained some space to air grievances. Hence, Mr. Hamad writes novels to try to jolt young Saudis into re-examining their own society. Fawaziah B. al-Bakr, a woman and a college professor, agitates for women to question their assigned roles. Hassan al-Maleky, a theologian, argues that no one sect - like the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia - holds a monopoly on interpreting Islam."