Mention of Saudi Arabia conjures images of a fundamentalist kingdom where the government prohibits women from driving and forbids non-Muslims from holding religious services. The roots of the country's puritanical code go back several centuries.
Research indicates that within the next 12 years, the number of Muslims worshiping at mosques in Britain will outstrip that of Catholics attending mass. According to London’s Daily Telegraph March 25, the study by Britain’s Christian Research organization estimates that the number of Catholics attending Sunday mass will have dropped to 679,000 by 2020.
The U.S. State Department has for the first time included Saudi Arabia on a list of “countries of particular concern” for not allowing religious freedom—a potential stumbling block for relations between the U.S. and its Persian Gulf ally.
Whatever the motives behind it, the land-for-peace initiative floated by Saudi Arabia strikes a note of reason in the ever-escalating violence of the Middle East. Since September 2000 over 1,074 Palestinians and 375 Jews have been killed in rounds of provocation and counterprovocation.
Star-crossed toys: Although reluctant to seize bank accounts of terrorist organizations, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia has been diligent about intercepting what its government regards as illicit contraband. For example, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce recently confiscated a shipment of 10 million bags of potato chips from Thailand.