The Mecca conference: Its nevertoo late [Archives:2004/699/Opinion]

January 1 2004

These days, anyone tuning in on Saudi Arabian Television Channel I, at 8:00 PM Mecca Time will not fail to note that the Saudi Government may have opted to view religious affairs and thinking with a far more perceptive outlook. The significance of this appealing new approach towards dealing with theological thought and jurisprudence (Sharia'a) is that it appears to signal a fundamental shift in state policy towards religion, in general and Islam, in particular.
Needless to say, the Saudi Government has, in the past, obligingly stuck to a long standing traditional “Gentlemen's Agreement”” governing the relationship between House of Sa'ud and the theocratic establishment that has overseen the promotion of the Wahhabi-Salafi interpretation of Islam. In itself