Les Saoudiens sont-ils des fanatiques ?

Les attaques terroristes en Arabie Saoudite ont amené beaucoup à remettre en question les perspectives de survie de la Maison des Saud régnante et à s'interroger sur la question de savoir si le royaume est fondamentalement dysfonctionnel et destructif ou non. Pour une raison ou pour une autre, il semble que la société saoudienne ait engendré un courant de fanatisme violent qui puise son inspiration dans une orthodoxie religieuse extrême.

Le fait que 15 des 19 pirates de l'air qui ont pris part aux attaques du 11 septembre 2001 contre les Etats-Unis étaient des Saoudiens a cristallisé une perception profondément ancrée du royaume en tant que bastion de l'autoritarisme et de l'intolérance. A certains égards, cette perception est juste, mais elle ne peut pas être appliquée à la population saoudienne dans son ensemble. Au contraire, ce serait une grave erreur que de supposer que l'islamisme fanatique définit entièrement les attitudes saoudiennes envers la religion.

Entre 2001 et 2003, j'ai fait partie d'une équipe chargée de réaliser une étude à grande échelle des valeurs en Arabie Saoudite, en Egypte, en Iran et en Jordanie. Nos résultats ont produit une image étonnamment nuancée des attitudes saoudiennes. Par comparaison avec des personnes interrogées habitant d'autres pays du Moyen-Orient, les Saoudiens se sont révélés les moins religieux de tous en général, et leurs attitudes envers la démocratie et les mariages arrangés indiquent également un sentiment sous-jacent modéré.

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