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Saudi Arabia
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Suspense Builds as Saudi Arabia Sparks Controversy: Ancient Arabian Goddesses Resurface in a Bold Attempt to Revive National Heritage, Triggering Outrage.

A surge of social media accounts within Saudi Arabia has emerged, advocating for the resurgence of ancient Arabian deities as a crucial facet of the nation’s heritage. This movement coincides with the kingdom’s strategic shift from a religious identity to a more nationalist one. On a platform, formerly known as Twitter, a user showcased images of the ancient Arabian goddess ‘Al-Uzza,’ accompanied by simulated rituals and depictions of the deity found in Saudi museums.

The user emphasized a timeless connection to Al-Uzza, asserting that, as Saudis, their link to the past transcends religious affiliations. The user argued that the Saudi government places significant importance on these ancient Arabian gods, citing the belief that “our past is a part of our future” due to the historical significance of statues and deities in the peninsula.

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Further delving into the pre-Islamic polytheistic pantheon, the user celebrated Al-Lat, Manat, and Al-Uzza as symbols of female empowerment, labeling them as “our ancient history.” Interestingly, the user justified past practices, such as female infanticide, by attributing them to offerings to the “feminine trinity.”

Blame for the opposition to exploiting these ancient deities for tourism and national heritage is placed on the Sahwa (Awakening) movement, accused of erasing historical consciousness and distorting the concept of identity. Critics assert that the movement’s influence, coupled with the Muslim Brotherhood, controlled education and media, leading to widespread indoctrination.

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The narrative takes an intriguing turn as the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, initiated reforms since 2017, dismantling the influence of the Sahwa movement and ushering in drastic societal changes. These reforms, including the development of heritage sites and the recovery of artifacts depicting the pagan pantheon, have stirred controversy.

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While the government justifies these actions as preserving national heritage, dissenting voices, including religious figures and Saudi citizens, express outrage, considering it an attempt to revive a polytheistic pantheon opposed by Islam. Some argue that the Saudi government’s move aligns with a broader effort to secularize the country by embracing an ancient religion predating Islam.

Controversy surrounds the identity of those behind the social media accounts championing these ancient deities. Accusations range from foreign entities, including Zionists and Hindutva individuals, to allegations of government-sponsored ‘bot’ accounts. Yet, none of these claims have been substantiated.

In the backdrop of this turmoil, the Saudi government’s push to revive its national heritage coincides with other nationalist endeavors, such as the introduction of the Saudi Founding Day in 2022. Critics view these initiatives as a deliberate departure from the religious identity established by the 18th-century scholar Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, questioning the government’s commitment to preserving its religious roots.

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This suspenseful narrative underscores the complex interplay between religious, nationalist, and historical elements in Saudi Arabia, fueling a discourse that challenges the nation’s evolving identity on various fronts.

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