Sunday, December 6, 2015

German vice-chancellor accuses Saudi Arabia of funding Islamic extremism in the West

In a highly unusual moment of a Western politician attacking a critical Arab ally, Sigmar Gabriel says the time has come to make it clear to Riyadh the time of looking away is over.
(Telegraph) The German vice-chancellor has publicly accused Saudi Arabia of financing Islamic extremism in the West and warned that it must stop.

Sigmar Gabriel said that the Saudi regime is funding extremist mosques and communities that pose a danger to public security.

“We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over,” Mr Gabriel told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

“Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany.”

The allegation that Saudi Arabia has funded mosques with links to Islamist terrorism in the West is not new. But it is highly unusual for a Western leader to speak out so directly against the West’s key Arab ally.

Mr Gabriel is Angela Merkel’s deputy and the leader of the German chancellor's main coalition partner.

His intervention comes just days after German intelligence issued a rare public warning that Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilising force in the Arab world.

Mrs Merkel’s government quickly distanced itself from the BND intelligence service’s assessment, saying it did not reflect official policy.

But Mr Gabriel’s remarks make it clear there are serious misgivings about the Saudi regime within the government.

Wahhabism, a fundamentalist sect of Sunni Islam that inspired both Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and al-Qaeda is also the official form of the religion in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have long funded the building of Wahhabi mosques around the world to spread the sect.

King Salman has already been widely criticised in the German media for offering to build 200 mosques for Syrian refugees arriving in Germany, even as Saudi Arabia refuses to take in any refugees itself.