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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a failure to lend a hand « Previous | |Next »
January 10, 2005

I've raised this issue on an earlier post.


This sentiment or opinion is reinforced by Peter Bergen's op-ed in the New York Times. He says:

While 100,000 of the victims are from Aceh, the most Islamic of Indonesia's provinces, Muslim countries are contributing a relative pittance. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is contributing the most: a paltry $30 million, about the same as what Netherlands is giving and less than one-tenth of the United States contribution. And no Arab governments participated in the conference in Jakarta on Thursday where major donors and aid organizations conferred over reconstruction efforts.

This anemic effort on the part of the richest countries is emblematic of a wider political problem in the Islamic world. For all of the invocations by Muslim leaders of the ummah, or the global community of believers, they typically do little to help their fellow Muslims in times of crisis.

An opportunity exists for oil rich Arab Gulf states like Saudi Arabia to improve their image with the world. Maybe the Arab rulers will change their emergency aid policies in south east Asia in response to the stinging public criticism in the Arab media?

Bergen finishes his piece by saying that:

The Persian Gulf countries that are reaping a bonanza from record oil prices should send a meaningful percentage of those windfall profits to their fellow Muslims devastated by the tsunami, rather than lining the pockets of their ruling families. After all, zakat, the giving of charity, is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Even self-interest says the Arab governments should give more through charity. After all, Southern Asia supplies the super rich Gulf states with much of their domestic and manual labor force.

What appears to be happening is that fundamentalist (?) Islamist preachers have cast the tsunami as a manifestation of divine wrath at the decadence, nudity, and immorality of now devastated tourist resorts as Phuket Island and Sumatra.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)