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The Call


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A spine chilling elucidation of a rampant Saudi-backed proselytization that has continents trapped in fundamentalist & radicalized fervour

"The Call" is a thoughtful and highly disturbing chronicle laying out the extent and ramification of Saudi proselytization in three "peacetime, democratic Muslim-majority countries outside the Middle East:" Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo. 

In Indonesia, a teeming multicultural nation state that houses the largest number of Muslims, outside India, such a proselytization has stealthily crept into the very lexicon of a nation, spawning neologisms. Ms. Varagur writes, "Arabisasi was one of the first Indonesian words I learned after I moved to Jakarta in 2016. It is a neologism meaning “Arabization” in Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) and it connotes a whole class of developments: the rise of political Islam, blasphemy charges, the growing popularity of hijabs and burqas, new mosques, louder mosques, new schools, the persecution of religious minorities, sharia bylaws, and an overall new, visible centrality of Islam in the cultural and political life of a big democracy that was, until 1998, a tightly controlled military dictatorship."

As Ms. Varagur eruditely elucidates, it is not just the machinery of the “the Saudi government” that is actively spreading the tenet of Wahhabism. Various branching tentacles such as universities, an Islamic Affairs ministry, several state adjacent global charities like the Muslim World League, one-off regional relief efforts, and independent businessmen all connive and collude together to ensure a well spread out permeation.

For a nation that was almost bereft of Salafist population just three decades ago, Kosovo has seen an explosion in its teachings.  Peace TV, an international Salafi channel founded by the radical Indian televangelist Zakir Naik, now in exile in Malaysia, spouts faith messages from the paradoxically titled location of Pristina. It’s headed by the Pristina-based Salafi imam Enis Rama, a Medina alumnus. "It broadcasts shows for thirteen hours a day, and within the last year, there have been over fifty different hosts and guests. They include Sabri Bajgora of the Islamic Community of Kosovo; Enes Goga, who has a weekly Quran reading program on Monday evenings; and Ekrem Afdiu. "

Breaking away from his more moderate preceptor Jafar Adam,  Muhammad Yusuf established the Ibn Taymiyya Center and was responsible for publishing the foundational manifesto of Boko Haram: “This is our creed and method of proclamation,” which mostly consisted of quotations from Saudi Salafi texts. Investigated by the government for his extreme rhetoric in 2004 he briefly fled to Saudi Arabia, following the footsteps of the fiery Indonesian preacher Habib Rizieq.

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About the author

Krithika Varagur is an award-winning journalist who has reported widely from Indonesia and the region for The Atlantic, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and more. She is a National Geographic explorer and graduated from Harvard University and was a Fulbright scholar at SOAS University of London. view profile

Published on April 21, 2020

Published by Columbia Global Reports

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Political Science & Current Affairs

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