A force for Saudi reform

The aftermath of terrorist attacks in the US on Sept. 11, 2001, has shined harsh light on a longstanding alliance of the world's biggest consumer of oil and the world's largest holder of oil re- serves. The image emerging of Saudi Arabia in the West isn't flattering. Like many images coaxed into view by strong glare, however, the common one obscures too much.Prominent in the popular view of Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism, a very strict interpretation of Islam that results from an 18th Century reform movement. Although most Saudis claim not to embrace its exclusionary theology, Wahhabism dominates Saudi mosques and holds semiofficial status under an historic agreement between king a...

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