Thou shalt have no historic sites before me

And I thought the Japanese had a curious philosophical approach to historic preservation. Zvika Krieger in the New Republic reports on the shockingly nihilist attitude of Saudi authorities toward maintaining countless historic sites, including many directly connected to Mohammed:

“It is not permitted to glorify buildings and historical sites,” proclaimed Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz, then the kingdom’s highest religious authority, in a much-publicized fatwa in 1994. “Such action would lead to polytheism.” […] The clerics’ stance permits the Saudi government to play it both ways, in a perfect marriage of the secular and spiritual. It can destroy ancient sites and still maintain doctrinal credibility; the massive, capitalistic accumulation of wealth becomes a religious necessity, not an evil. “The government has finally woken up to the commercial value of religious tourism,” Sfakianakis says, “and they are really the ones driving this construction boom in Mecca.”

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