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The Saudi king won much praise last week for convening talks at the United Nations ostensibly meant to promote peace and "religious tolerance." He even snagged a private audience with President Bush.
But if you take a close look at King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud's agenda, some of it is hardly praiseworthy. In fact, if he gets any traction at the UN (or anywhere else), it'll mark a giant step backward for both peace and tolerance.
Indeed, behind Abdullah's Kumbaya facade was a downright scary agenda: Essentially, he wants the world's moral blessing to restrict any and all speech about Islam, its adherents and regimes that promote them - except, of course, that which is approved by official censors. He also wants to throw the UN's moral weight behind punishments meted out to those who violate such restrictions, even if he doesn't say that explicitly.
Meanwhile, Abdullah failed to make even the slightest gesture toward softening his own regime's brutal intolerance of other religions and cultures. Some parley on "religious tolerance."
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