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Financial Times: Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom on Guard

Author: Roula Khalaf
March 28, 2014

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"Two camps are emerging: one led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which maintains that political Islam is a perilous force that should be confronted; and the other led by Qatar and Turkey's ruling party, which believes in political Islam's ability to transform the region. 'This confrontation has not reached its peak yet,' [Tarek Osman] says. Saudi Arabia's policies might be pursued in the name of stability. But they could well achieve the opposite."

The reaction was almost instant. On the same day that the Saudi government announced a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, the four-finger sign of sympathy with Egypt's Brothers disappeared from Twitter picture displays.

No one in the kingdom was willing to take the risk of being accused of supporting the Islamist group, even if the yellow symbol was sometimes just an expression of pity for the victims of the Cairo regime's repression of Islamists.

This month's ban, it was clear, would be enforced under harsh antiterrorism regulations that had been introduced just a few weeks earlier. So sweeping were the new laws that any hint of support for outlawed groups could be deemed a criminal offence.

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