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RadicalizationSaudi Arabia exports Islamic extremism to many countries: Experts

Published 10 July 2017

A British study has found that Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the radicalization of Muslims. “The findings do not surprise me at all,” says an academic authority on Islam. “It has long been known that Saudi Arabia has been exporting Wahhabist ideology - largely similar to the ideology of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS). Propaganda material and organizational expertise are being sent along with money. People are being hired to build mosques, educational institutions, cultural centers and similar organizations, so that Wahhabist theology can reach the public – with great success.”

A British study has found that Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the radicalization of Muslims (see “Islamist extremism in the U.K. strengthened by foreign funding,” HSNW, 5 July 2017). The Wahhabi influence, fueled by oil money, can be seen in Germany as well, says researcher Susanne Schröter. Deutsche Welle’s Matthias von Hein interviewed Professor Schröter, the director of the Frankfurter Research Center for Global Islam (FFGI), director of the Institute for Ethnology, principal investigator the cluster of excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders,” director of the Cornelia Goethe Center for Gender Research, and executive board member of the German Orient Institute.

DW: After the bloody terror attacks in Great Britain, there are an increasing number of studies being conducted on the cause of radicalization. Britain’s Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, has published a report on foreign funding for extremist branches of Islam in Great Britain. Saudi Arabia has been clearly named as one of the greatest supporters. In the past 50 years, Riyadh has invested at least 76 billion euros ($86 billion) in Wahhabi extremism, the ideological basis of extremist and jihadist movements throughout the world. Are you surprised about these findings?

Susanne Schröter: The findings do not surprise me at all. It has long been known that Saudi Arabia has been exporting Wahhabist ideology - largely similar to the ideology of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS). Propaganda material and organizational expertise are being sent along with money. People are being hired to build mosques, educational institutions, cultural centers and similar organizations, so that Wahhabist theology can reach the public – with great success.