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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Saudis lash US 'Christian extremists'
US President George Bush with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah
Official good relations mask growing tension

The Saudi press has launched a vitriolic attack on what it describes as Christian fundamentalism in the United States.

One newspaper, al-Watan, said Christian fundamentalism was no less dangerous to international peace and security than other forms of religious extremism.

The newspapers were responding to reports of a Pentagon briefing during which Saudi Arabia was described as the kernel of evil in the Middle East.

Despite the official statements from Washington and Riyadh that relations between the two countries are as good as ever, the anger in the Saudi press reflects a growing unease in Saudi Arabia about the way the kingdom has been portrayed in the United States since the attacks in September last year.

The prime suspect, Osama Bin Laden, is a Saudi dissident, and so were most of the hijackers.

'Dust of hatred'

One newspaper, Watani, said the international media had concentrated only on Muslim fundamentalism, forgetting that Christian fundamentalism was just as dangerous.

The paper said the influence of Christian extremists in America had increased since the attacks on New York and the Pentagon last year.

The paper said Christian fundamentalism in the US was particularly dangerous because it was capable of influencing American foreign policy to further its own interests which, the paper added, were identical with Israeli interests in the Middle East.

Another newspaper, The Saudi Gazette, said Christian fundamentalists in the US were raising what it described as "dust of hatred" about Saudi Arabia, and it called on President Bush to rein in elements whose agenda was to initiate a clash of civilizations.

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07 Aug 02 | Americas
26 Oct 01 | Middle East
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