Maid's Beheading Sparks Anti-Saudi Backlash

Indonesia sours on Wahhabism after abused maid executed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2011 8:30 AM CDT
Protestors demonstrate in front of the Presidential Palace claiming the Indonesian government is failing to protect its migrant workers.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Saudi Arabia and the strict Wahhabi form of Islam it has exported have fallen rapidly out of favor in the world's most populous Muslim nation after the kingdom beheaded an Indonesian maid earlier this summer for killing her allegedly abusive employer, the Washington Post finds. The execution sparked a major anti-Saudi backlash: Some 1.2 million Indonesians, mostly maids, work in Saudi Arabia, but the Indonesian government has now declared a moratorium on labor exports to the kingdom. At least 20 Indonesians, nearly all women, are on death row in Saudi Arabia.

Even the most devout Indonesian Muslims have begun questioning Saudi Arabia's ultra-rigid interpretation of their faith, and there have been calls to boycott the pilgrimage to Mecca. "Some Indonesians began to think that Wahhabism is the true teaching of Islam, but thanks to God, there has been a change of thinking,” says the head of an Indonesian Muslim organization that has 50 million members and runs 28,000 boarding schools. “Saudi Arabia is the holy land, so people always used to make excuses for it,” says an expert. “They now realize that Saudi Islam is not the right image of Islam.”

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