Stephen Schwartz highlights a nasty rant by a Saudi Arabian blowhard about how the south Asian tsunami was the wrath of Allah.
In one such instance, Shaykh Salih Fawzan al-Fawzan, a high functionary of the Saudi regime, said on television, “These great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities, and even entire countries, are Allah’s punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims.” He continued, “Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction. We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant. The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That’s when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect.
I think I know what this Christmas business might be about.
I had a cup of coffee with one of my guides in Ghadames, Libya back in November. He sheepishly wanted to know if a particular rumor about us was true.
“I have heard,” he said, “that European and American men have sex with other men’s wives on Christmas. Is it true? Libyan people don’t like that.”
“American people don’t like that,” I said. “No, it isn’t true. We don’t do that. Europeans don’t do it either.”
“You don’t do it? Really?” he said.
“No,” I told him. “Where did you hear that?”
He looked around the room at people sitting next to our table and shrugged. “Everyone in Libya thinks this. But I promise I will tell people that you told me it isn’t true.”
I appreciated his myth-busting services. And I appreciated that he asked about it. He seemed to suspect it wasn’t true. So I decided to be perfectly honest with him and told about the sixties, key parties, and swingers. He was a smart and fair man. It probably helped that I told him there was a kernal of truth (but only a kernel) to the Christmas myth, even though it wasn’t at all common and had nothing to do with Christmas.
Anyway, that might be what Shaykh Salih Fawzan al-Fawzan was shrieking about on Saudi TV.