Is Saudi Arabia to blame for the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIL)? It is commonly claimed that Wahhabism, the strict form of Islam originating in the Kingdom – and the Saudi state’s aggressive promotion of it – has fuelled terrorism.
Saudi Arabia is also accused of funding IS, either directly or by failing to prevent private donors from sending money to the group.
But Saudi Arabia rejects both accusations, and has announced the formation of a new Islamic anti-terrorism coalition.
Five experts share their views.
Professor Bernard Haykel: IS theology directly linked to Wahhabism
Professor Bernard Haykel is director of the Institute for Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University.
“The Islamic State’s religious genealogy comes from ‘Jihadi Salafism’, a theological current that is very old in Islam that is quite literalist.
“[Followers are] extremely rigorous, and condemn other Muslims who don’t share their theology. That gives them the hard edge when it comes to violence, because they can justify it theologically.
“Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab is in that Salafist tradition. He was a religious reformer in Arabia who was able to create a religious movement that ended up creating a state.
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