"Certainly, Wahhabism is a key tool at the root of divisions in the Middle East, helping to spread hatred against Muslim communities," Professor Tim Anderson said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
"In this respect, the Saud family, serving as a ‘cat’s paw’ or client state for Washington, has done tremendous harm to the image of Islam in the world," he added.
Professor Tim Anderson is a distinguished author and Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. He has worked at Australian universities for more than 30 years, teaching, researching and publishing on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014, he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. He is Australia and Pacific representative for the Latin America based Network in Defence of Humanity. His most recent books are: Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015), The Dirty War on Syria (2016), now published in ten languages; and Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017). His next book Axis of Resistance is due out in 2019.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Turkey's Istanbul recently hosted an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) about "increasing violence based on Islamophobia" a week after the New Zealand mosque attack killed at least 50 Muslims, including children. What do you think about the importance of the emergency meeting and the concerns of the participants?
Anderson: It is important that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation made that statement, and that there is wider coordinated action against the vilification of Muslims and of Islam. However, such a statement is undermined when it comes from Mr. Erdogan, who is well known to have supported DAESH in Syria and Iraq, in pursuit of his own ambitions. Those who backed Wahhabism and DAESH have done greater damage to the image of Islam in the world than any individual terrorist. Most well educated people in the region have already recognized this.
Tasnim: Brenton Tarrant, the Australian terrorist who carried out the pre-planned attack on two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch, penned a 74-page manifesto that he published around the time of the shootings. Revealing his admiration for Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway back in 2011, Tarrant also praised US President Donald Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." Breivik’s attacks in Norway were described as "lone wolf" domestic terrorist attacks. Some claim that the terror attack in Christchurch was also the same. Can we describe the attack “lone wolf” or you think that an anti-Islam current is behind it?
Anderson: The terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, cannot have acted alone. There is a great deal of speculation about those from whom he got support. I do not want to add speculative comments. The official inquiry announced by the government of New Zealand may help shed more light on this. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that the gunman and his associates drew on a wider anti-Muslim and anti-Arab current in Western culture, a current encouraged by many Western governments during the multiple wars they launched against the independent states and peoples of the Middle East region. For example, in just five newspapers of the Australia-based News Corp (Murdoch) group, a survey found, in one year, ‘almost 3000 articles that referred to Islam or Muslims alongside words like violence, extremism, terrorism or radical’ (https://www.onepathnetwork.com/islam-in-the-media-2017). That constant anti-Muslim agitation must infect many feeble minds with racial or religious hatred. It serves as the background for such horrific crimes. Yet it seems to be thought necessary, by western elites, to attract popular support for the recent series of Washington-led wars.
Tasnim: In your opinion, how can Muslims prevent the spread of Islamophobia? Wahhabism is Saudi Arabia's dominant faith and blamed for the rise of Islamophobia in the world. The ideology is closely linked to extremist ideas that have nothing to do with true Islam. Do not you think that one of the ways to prevent the spread of Islamophobia is to prevent the spread of Wahhabism?
Anderson: Certainly, Wahhabism is a key tool at the root of divisions in the Middle East, helping to spread hatred against Muslim communities. In this respect, the Saud family, serving as a ‘cat’s paw’ or client state for Washington, has done tremendous harm to the image of Islam in the world. I would not say that Wahhabism is a ‘faith’; it may draw on certain conservative doctrines, including Salafism, but Wahhabism is really a cult built around the Riyadh regime. That Wahhabi cult works alongside the ‘Second Temple’ cult of Israel, using finance and propaganda to generate divisions amongst the people of the region. The result is a weak and divided region, open to subjugation by the imperial and former colonial powers. Yet the only hope of definitively defeating this recent neo-colonial project (called a ‘New Middle East’) is the close coordination and unity of resistance forces. We have to conclude that Saudi Wahhabism – build from its beginnings through collusion with the colonial powers - is a key enemy of the peoples of the region.