Saudis Could Amaze Any Space Alien
If a Martian had attended last week's UN conference on religious tolerance hosted by Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most oppressive states, he would have been a very puzzled alien.
On the one hand, he would have seen Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah promoting tolerance. On the other, if our visiting Martian had taken the time to land his space ship in Saudi Arabia, he would have experienced something quite different.
Let's say that after settling into his hotel in Riyadh, Marvin went to the nearest public park wearing his best religious regalia, set up his portable shrine, prayed and thanked the Martian gods for his safe arrival on Earth.
In the blink of an alien's inscrutable eye, poor Marvin would have found out that -- extraterrestrial or not -- he's still an infidel.
Perhaps Saudi officials would have just confiscated his precious religious possessions, bundled him into his spaceship and sent him on his way.
Or they might have jailed him and given him a whipping for having the audacity to publicly practise a non-Muslim religion before deporting him back to Mars.
The authorities might even have considered the incident serious enough to rewrite Saudi Arabia's hate-filled school books to warn students about the dangers of infidel aliens.
Already, Saudi children are taught that Jews are "apes" and Christians are "swine." Shiites and other Muslim minorities who don't follow the state's puritanical Wahhabi doctrine are "unbelievers." So are atheists and Hindus.
Marvin the Martian wouldn't have a chance in Saudi Arabia.
Students are taught not only to hate "unbelievers" but that it is a religious obligation to battle (in the worst sense of the word) infidels to spread the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.
That's the Islam of tyranny, misogyny and beheadings.
According to Freedom House, Saudi Arabia has spent $75 billion over the last 25 years planting the seeds of hate in Saudi-funded Wahhabi Muslim schools around the world. Saudi Arabia was also included in Freedom House's 2008 report on the world's most repressive societies.
People can be forgiven if they're a tad skeptical, therefore, that the Saudi king is genuinely committed to religious tolerance.