Inside the Saudi terror machine: Understanding Wahhabism and Salafism

These two strains of Islamic fundamentalism are ideologically identical, which hasn’t stopped them from feuding

Although the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] had decided to use the term “Salafism” instead of “Wahhabism,” the question of the distinction between the two ideologies remained relevant. The internal debate has taken place in the West on whether to use the term Salafism (whether jihadist or not) more readily than Wahhabism. This was syntactically legitimate, because Salafism meant orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But it was less so politically. Making the connection between the two religious practices would mean holding Saudi Arabia responsible for the spread of Salafism, which Western leaders have always proscribed. However, the two are ideologically identical, as we shall try to demonstrate.

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