I QUIT SMOKING THANKS TO ISLAMIC ACTIVISTS.
I had been researching youth politics in Riyadh for about two years, chain-smoking between interviews but never during them, for Islamic activists—the bulk of my interlocutors—loathed tobacco.
Friends and interviewees were concerned about my habit and one of them recommended a religious charity that helped smokers. I drove there one day. Inside the building a volunteer greeted me with a grin. He looked like many religious activists in Saudi Arabia: with a beard, short white robes, a flowing headdress, and a boisterous sense of purpose. He took me to an office where he measured my lung capacity with a small device. Looking at the results, he praised the speed of my exhalation and said recovery would be easier than I thought.
He then led me to a large room where there was a tall transparent container, with a slot in the top, that looked vaguely like a ballot box. The container was filled with crumpled cigarette packs. A few others joined us there for an impromptu ceremony: the volunteer invited me to take out the pack that had been distorting the front pocket of my jeans, crush it, and throw it into the box, all of which I did, and they applauded. From there the man led me into a room of examination tables covered in clean sheets. The blinds were shut and the lights were dimmed; each table had a pillow and a pair of electrodes. I lay down and he fixed the electrodes to the small flaps in front of my ear openings. He told me to relax and turned on a rheostat.
A mild electric current passed through my skull between my ears. I closed my eyes and focused on breathing. The buzz receded into the background; I dozed off to the swish of cars on the avenue outside. After about twenty minutes, the man came back, removed the electrodes, and told me to come back the next day.
As I left the building I inhaled the dusty air, filled with car exhaust and cooking scents. A man was walking down the street, a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. He walked past and I caught a full whiff of tobacco smoke.
I thought I would be attracted to the smell, but what I perceived was an odor I had not sensed in fourteen years: it was acrid and unpleasant, not the seductive aroma I had grown to love. Cigarette smoke was now as alien to me as it had been before I started smoking. The electrodes had acted on my senses like a time machine.
The treatment was free of charge and lasted for a week, during which I did not touch tobacco. But after the electric treatments stopped, I started smoking again. I cursed the false hope the charity had given me, then forgot about it. My life as a researcher went on as before until one day, a few months later, I had to put out my morning cigarette after a couple of drags. This was very unusual. The day’s first cigarette was often the best, but that one I found repulsive. I remembered the Islamic charity’s electrodes and ran to the nearest pharmacy. I bought nicotine patches, vitamins, and magnesium—and I braced myself.
I told this story a few years later to a Saudi student in the United States, a social scientist who was closely watching the political scene in his country. He told me he regretted that Islamic activists had vanished from public spaces in recent years: they were now in prison, in hiding, or dead.
“Without them, we are left alone to face the Saudi state,” he said. “They used to organize society in an autonomous manner. They created all kinds of institutions that were outside of the state’s purview. Your addiction clinic is a good example of this.”
That this chain smoker and amateur of strong cocktails missed Islamic activists was a testimony to their wide appeal. Smoking was so prevalent in the country that addiction clinics sprouted up in several cities. Like other behaviors that activists had constructed as sins, smoking was an opportunity for dedicated individuals to organize and collectively demonstrate their social utility.1 The addiction clinic was not only a political tool, however, but also a site of transformation. There everyday smokers could reform themselves by submitting to the higher orders of meditation and electricity.
Addiction clinics were part of a nationwide network of charities, youth movements, women’s groups, and activist organizations that emerged in the 1970s and were called, as a whole, the Islamic Awakening2 or sometimes, simply, the Awakening. Awakening activists critiqued and protested the top-down modernization of the country by princes and experts, the Saudi-U.S. military alliance, Western arms sales to the country, and the repression of political and religious activism. They organized youth movements, provided a purpose to generations of Saudis, and helped members of the middle and the lower middle class gain in confidence and self-respect. And despite—or because of—their popularity, they were repressed and criminalized.
The eventual political crackdown was the outcome of long-term international cooperation. ʿAbd al-ʿAziz Al Saʿud created the Saudi state in the first decades of the twentieth century. To fund his political projects, he sought support from the Ottoman Empire, then the British Empire, and eventually the United States. The Ottomans appointed ʿAbd al-ʿAziz’s father kaymakam, local imperial administrator. The British made Central Arabia into a protectorate during World War I and helped ʿAbd al-ʿAziz conquer the vast territories that extend from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf. In the 1930s, U.S. oil companies carved an informal empire out of the Saudi oil province, a territory east of Riyadh that was the size of Ukraine. Their corporate influence was soon formalized in a U.S. military protectorate over Saudi Arabia.3
U.S. Americans introduced wage labor, military air bases, economic planning, racial segregation, and suburban developments to Saudi Arabia. They powered the repressive apparatus of a state that grew more authoritarian as more Western experts joined it. Western modernity produced pipelines, asphalt roads, single-family houses—and torture chambers.4 In oil-fueled, Western-powered Saudi Arabia, dissidents became traitors, and traitors could be tortured and disposed of.
ʿAbd al-ʿAziz first cracked down on those who resisted his conquests. The fledging state banned political parties in 1932 as a way to help British and Saudi forces fight the Free Hijazi Party, a movement that resisted ʿAbd al-ʿAziz’s annexation of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.5 The next targets of police and military repression were the workers’ movements that fought the U.S. oil company’s racist, exploitative practices. The state banned unions and strikes and systematically suppressed public dissent.6 U.S., British, and French experts trained Saudi officers. U.S., British, and French weapons manufacturers armed them. The Pax Americana was also a Pax Britannica and a Pax Gallica.
In 1976, the French intelligence head Alexandre de Marenches godfathered the Safari Club, an international coalition whose mission was to hunt down subversives in the Middle East and Africa. The Safari Club was made up of Egypt, France, Iran, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. It soon organized counterinsurgency operations in Congo and Somalia and supported an Islamic insurgency against the new communist government of Afghanistan. When an armed movement occupied Mecca’s Great Mosque in 1979 and lambasted the Saudi monarchy, the Saudi head of intelligence reached out to his French partners, and President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing sent in an elite unit.7 Saudi and French forces killed between four and five thousand people during the siege of the mosque. The following year, a state-owned French development corporation started building a ten-thousand-unit suburb near Mecca. Political repression and real estate development often went hand in hand.8
The Saudi War on Terror has continued the Safari Club’s counterinsurgency operations in the twenty-first century. In 2011 there were between twelve and thirty thousand political prisoners and prisoners of opinion in the country, some of whom had been personally processed by FBI officers.9 Regulations enacted in 2013 and 2014 expanded the definition of terrorism to include the mildest forms of public speech. “Doubting the principles of Islam” became terrorism, as did “supporting or belonging to[ . . . ]organizations, groups, movements, gatherings, or political parties.” Participating in a sit-in or a demonstration was terrorism. Attending conferences that “sow discord in society” was terrorism. The Muslim Brotherhood was a terrorist organization. Atheists were terrorists, too.10
Meanwhile, people kept disappearing into the black hole of the Saudi security system. When Salman bin ʿAbd al-ʿAziz, an aged son of the founding father, came to power in 2015, he found a perfectly greased machine. Salman’s son, Muhammad bin Salman, lost little time before beginning to push its most gruesome buttons; brasher than his forebears, he did not bother to hide his actions. Saudi state brutality, which had been known to Saudis for decades, became international news.11
Far from being a haven for Islamic activists, Saudi Arabia has imprisoned them by the thousands since the late 1970s. “Saudi Arabia is a graveyard of clerics and a prison for preachers,”12 the Palestinian writer Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi wrote in 1989. The quip became proverbial, not least because of the prolific career of its author, one of the foremost ideologues of global jihad. Al-Maqdisi was born in 1959 and claimed Central Arabian ancestry; he lived in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia before joining the fight against the Soviet Union in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1980s. But this scholar did not really know how to use firearms: his weapons of choice were writing and teaching. While in Pakistan he penned a relentless critique of the Saudi political and religious establishment under the title The Clear Evidence of the Irreligion of the Saudi State.13
The state uses clerics, he wrote, “as a fig leaf and a smokescreen.” Clerics “play a more important role than the army, the National Guard, the Royal Guard, the U.S. bases, the AWACS aircrafts, and all defense and security agreements: they anesthetize the people, put them to sleep, and deceive them.” Saudi Arabia is a “morgue of clerics” and true believers should leave the country, lest they end up behind bars, beaten, and tortured.14
A few years after al-Maqdisi, the Yemeni activist Muqbil al-Wadiʿi used similar language. Born in the 1930s, al-Wadiʿi spent several decades studying religion in Saudi Arabia, where he joined the movement that occupied the Great Mosque of Mecca in 1979. Arrested, imprisoned, and finally deported to Yemen, al-Wadiʿi deplored the fact that Saudi money and state brutality had stripped clerics and preachers of their independence. “In Saudi prisons today, there are around five hundred preachers,” he wrote in 1992, on the eve of a campaign of repression that would see hundreds more rounded up. “Many preachers wish to escape to the United States or Sudan, for their country has become a graveyard of clerics.”15 A few years later, al-Wadiʿi also went to the United States; but it was to undergo cancer treatment, paid for by one of Salman’s brothers.16
Al-Wadiʿi may have been inspired by the history of his country, too. In the nineteenth century, Yemenis used to say that their country was “the graveyard of the Turks,” a place that resisted imperial projects and where the Ottomans went to die. Some Yemenis saw the Ottomans as corrupt wine drinkers who had sex with small boys and exploited the poor; despite their pretensions to lead the Islamic community they were barely Muslim, and therefore fighting them was allowed.17
Neither al-Maqdisi nor al-Wadiʿi, however, thought that Saudi clerics were corrupt, wine-drinking pedophiles who exploited the poor and were scarcely Muslim. They both had enormous respect for prominent Saudi clerics. What they mourned was the fact that clerics had been deprived of their freedom, buried alive in a bureaucratic maze or, if they tried to break the fetters, thrown in jail and tortured. Saudi Arabia was not the Islamic utopia it claimed to be, but an irreligious dystopia where state violence ruled supreme.
Most of the activists I have studied were either Islamic Awakening preachers or their followers and managed to organize in the rare spaces of freedom they had carved out amid intense, often spectacular repression. These activists rarely called themselves Islamiyun, Islamists, except when contrasting their positions to those of the liberals18 or the secularists,19 whom they saw as a broadly pro-Western current of thought, influential in the press and among decision-makers. Instead of “Islamists” they preferred to speak of “Islamic youth,”20 “Awakening youth,”21 or, perhaps to oppose their own vitality to the gerontocracy of the Al Saʿud royal family, simply “youth.”22
We in Western countries often call “Islamists” those we want to frame as exotic criminals, prone to violence and mired in medieval ways of thinking. I actively refrain from using “Islamist” or “Islamism” here. Islamisme is a neologism Voltaire crafted in the eighteenth century to name Islam on the model of the French words Judaïsme and Christianisme. The word was then abandoned, along with mahométanisme, in favor of islam, only to reappear in Western scholarship after the 1979 Iranian revolution to describe movements that, more radically than Arab nationalisms, questioned Western hegemony.23 Politicians and pundits now use this neologism to criminalize generations of activists, cast doubt on their political claims, and help suppress the movements they created. That activists kept organizing in the graveyard of clerics is a feat that, pace terrorism and security studies, deserves understanding and respect—not the rehearsing of uncertain Eurocentric stereotypes.
I first landed in Riyadh a few days after September 11, 2001, to teach French in a small institute near the Imam Muhammad bin Saʿud Islamic University, in the northern suburbs of the city. I became fascinated by Riyadh’s physical and political landscape, with its modernist superblocks and its persistent expressions of political defiance. I started jotting down observations and chatting with whoever would talk to me. I was already conducting ethnographic research without knowing it. In the end I abandoned my graduate studies in philosophy to study Saudi youth politics. I joined a program in Middle East Studies, obtained a research visa in 2004, and moved back to Saudi Arabia, where I lived until the summer of 2007. I had a small stipend from the French Center for Archaeology and Social Science in Sana’a, Yemen, and the King Faysal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, based in Riyadh, lent me an office for the duration of my stay.
Studying political activism in Saudi Arabia is no easy task. I could only conduct field research with men, because gender segregation was pervasive in the 2000s; there are dynamic female Islamic activists, but hanging out with them was nearly impossible for me.24 My own identity as a French researcher was also an obstacle. Everywhere I could see the heavy footprint of Western experts and other social scientists who had come since World War II to help keep the Saudi population in check. Many interlocutors looked through me toward an international system that had suppressed political life in their country. They assumed I was a spy, because I could very well have become one: one day, two French intelligence officers, after plying me with copious amounts of food and wine, asked if I would keep tabs on French converts living in Riyadh. I could have said yes, and no one would have been any the wiser.
Few anthropologists “go native,” Talal Asad writes in a recent text, because their “deepest feelings are truly at home” only in their own society.25 I confess to the opposite. For a set of complicated reasons, when I moved to Riyadh in early 2005 I thought of myself as an immigrant to Saudi Arabia, not an expat passing through. I actively tried to assimilate. I lived outside of the gated communities where most Westerners lived, learned to speak Arabic with a Riyadh accent, and would listen to Saudi and Iraqi music, watch Saudi television, and eat Najdi, Hijazi, Yemeni, and Iraqi food.
One day one of my closest friends told me to stop wearing jeans and buttoned-up shirts, “like an Indian,” and start “dressing like a man”—as if immigrants from the subcontinent were less than human. He dragged me to his tailor and walked me through all the tiny decisions governing thob elegance: what type of cloth, what collar, what length, how close to the body. For more than a year I wore a long, white, tailored thob and often sported a shmagh and a ʿigal, the red-and-white-checkered headdress and the black double rope that so elegantly complete male Saudi silhouettes.
I was proud of “passing.” When the man sitting next to me on a domestic flight asked if I was from Jeddah, I beamed with pride and later boasted about it to my friends in Riyadh, who had arabized Pascal into Basil and sometimes added their own tribal name to my first name. At times I thought I would stay and become Saudi, like a Yemeni friend who, after several years and many interventions, had been granted the citizenship.
“Whatever happens, you will remain a Westerner,” an Islamic activist said to me one day. Despite all my efforts at “passing,” my being there was predicated on a system of power that, from my French scholarship to my link with the King Faysal Center, excluded him by definition. How could I understand his experience and his perspective? How could I put myself in his shoes? This conundrum has kept me busy for some time. One of my political and epistemological goals in the past years has been to not remain a Westerner, even if, ultimately, I conducted field research as one.
“It is one thing to try to understand ‘the native’s point of view,’” Talal Asad writes in the same text; “it is quite another for the anthropologist to approach ‘the native’ with the possibility of learning something important for her own form of life that might help to transform how that life is understood.”26 My encounter with Islamic activists durably changed my “deepest feelings” and altered my idea of what a home should be. I not only understood “how it is that the language of Islam has come to apprehend the aspirations of so many people”27 across the world; I also lost the sense of centrality and superiority that my elitist French upbringing had impressed on me.
This transformation was not only intellectual and political: it also passed through an alteration of my body itself. Perhaps the fact that Islamic activists helped cure my addiction to tobacco, and that I let myself be literally shocked by them, did something to disrupt my structural position as a Westerner. Or perhaps this is the story that I like to tell myself, after having had all things Saudi impressed upon me for almost twenty years. It remains that, more than ten years after visiting the Islamic charity, I am still tobacco-free. Islamic activists may have helped me live a longer, healthier life. They have certainly helped thousands of others to live better lives—or maybe just live—in an extremely repressive context.
The graveyard of clerics only authorized fleeting, subtle political life, what my interlocutors called Islamic action,28 an expression that, contrary to the Western notion of “Islamism,” is dynamic and points to practices, not texts and doctrines. I am not interested here in religion as a doctrinal tradition and do not study how individuals cultivate themselves within it.29 There is definitely “too much Islam in the anthropology of Islam” and also, certainly, too much anthropology of Islam in the study of contemporary Islamic movements: just as most believers are not dedicated activists, most activists may not be committed believers. Studying Islamic activists should not be confused with an analysis of what Islam “does,” but it should allow us to better understand the complex relationships between activism, reform, and repression. My project therefore is to examine the ambiguities and contradictions that are inseparable from the daily lives of ordinary activists.30
Saying that Saudi Arabia is a graveyard of clerics does not only mean that the state, by instituting an official religion, has forced its clerics and preachers into a narrow straitjacket. It also implies an intimate relationship between the nation and graveyards. Saudi Arabia as a nation was born through the act of destroying the tombs of saints, prophets, and martyrs.31 In the 1920s, after ʿAbd al-ʿAziz conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, his army demolished the al-Muʿalla and al-Baqiʿ cemeteries, where close relatives of the Prophet Muhammad were buried. The destruction was thorough and spectacular. A European passing through Medina in 1926 wrote that its “wilderness of ruined building materials and tombstones” showed the graves had not been “ruined by a casual hand, but raked away from their places and ground small.”32 Saudi Arabia had become a graveyard of graveyards.
Modern Saudi graveyards are walled off and empty: no tombstones, no inscriptions, only gravel or sand or dust and, to mark each tomb, two bare stones. In some cities, municipal services clear out the tombs every two years to make space for new bodies; in Mecca, bodies are pushed aside and mixed with older bones every year. Being buried near the Great Mosque has become a prized commodity.33 Like the cities that surround them, Saudi graveyards are transient and subjected to the market. In Riyadh, tombs are marked electronically34 and soon, even the two stones that mark each grave might be entirely replaced by digital records and the graveyards swept clean, the mere reflection of datasets kept elsewhere and accessible only under certain conditions.
A graveyard is a place where the dead are cast away, pushed toward the periphery of the city. But growing cities now surround graveyards, and the peripheries have become central. Graveyards have become places of mixing, where old bones mingle with yet older ones as fresher corpses are brought in and interred.
That Saudi Arabia is a graveyard of clerics means that clerics are constantly subjected to the threat of metaphorical or actual death. The state has suspended them in a state between life and death, condemned them to “the status of living dead.”35 It also means that the place is awaiting a revival, that its politics need to be re-enchanted. No wonder the main social and political movement in the country called itself the Awakening. There was much to awaken in the death-world the Al Saʿud family created, beginning with the very streets of Riyadh, which had been put to death by princes, planners, and developers.36
1. Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al al-Shaykh, Fatwa fi hukm sharb al-dukhan (fatwa about smoking tobacco) (General presidency of scholarly research and ifta 2012), pp. 6, 17–18. All Arabic transliterations follow the transliteration system of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, simplified for the purpose of this book (long vowels are not signified by a macron, and emphatic consonants are not signified by an underdot).
2. Al-sahwa al-islamiyya.
3. Daniel Sargent, A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s (Oxford University Press 2015), pp. 141–146, 154–155, 289.
4. Askar al-Enazy, The Creation of Saudi Arabia: Ibn Saud and British Imperial Policy, 1914–1927 (Routledge 2013); Robert Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Verso 2009); Toby C. Jones, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Saudi Arabia (Harvard University Press 2010).
5. Alexei Vassiliev, The History of Saudi Arabia (Saqi Books 2000), pp. 282–283; Rosie Bsheer, “A Counter-Revolutionary State: Popular Movements and the Making of Saudi Arabia,” Past and Present 238 (2018): 243–244.
6. Vitalis, America’s Kingdom, pp. 92–98, 102–104, 145–162, 172–184; Bsheer, “A Counter-Revolutionary State,” 255–268.
7. Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (Pantheon Books 2004), pp. 84–87; Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising (Allen Lane 2007), pp. 174–178. The leftist Egyptian singer Sheikh Imam parodied Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s alliance with repressive states in his 1975 eponym song, in which he sings, “We’ll realize Arab Unity with London and the Vatican.”
8. Pascal Menoret, “Fighting for the Holy Mosque: The 1979 Mecca Insurgency,” in C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly (eds.), Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces (Oxford University Press 2008), pp. 117–139; International Archives, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Paris: SCET COOP INTER, Assemblée Générale Ordinaire du 23 octobre 1980, Box 202.16; Interview with a French engineer, Paris, November 2013.
9. Asma Alsharif, “Detainees Disappear into Black Hole of Saudi Jails,” Reuters, August 25, 2011; Alastair Sloan, “Who Are the Political Prisoners in Saudi and Iran?” Middle East Monitor, May 3, 2014. See FBI Assistant Director of Public Affairs Cassandra Chandler’s speech at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, September 27, 2004, https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/speeches/fbi-intelligence-and-counterterrorism-program, and FBI Counterterrorism Division Deputy Assistant Director Thomas Harrington’s testimony in front of the House Committee on International Relations, Washington, DC, March 24, 2004, https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/testimony/middle-east-and-central-asia-saudi-arabia-and-the-fight-against-terrorism-financing.
10. “Saudi Arabia: New Terrorism Regulations Assault Rights: Campaign to Silence Peaceful Activists,” Human Rights Watch, March 20, 2014. “Saudi Arabia Designates Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Group,” Reuters, March 7, 2014.
11. “Jamal Khashoggi: Murder in the Consulate,” The Guardian, October 21, 2018; “Credible Evidence Saudi Crown Prince Liable for Khashoggi Killing,” The Guardian, June 19, 2019.
12. Al-Suʿudiyya maqbarat al-ʿulamaʾ wa sijn al-duʿa.
13. Joas Wagemakers, A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (Cambridge University Press 2012), pp. 30–41.
14. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Kawashif al-jaliya fi kufr al-dawla al-suʿudiyya (The clear evidence of the irreligion of the Saudi state) (Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad 2001 ), pp. 214–224. All translations into English are mine, unless otherwise noted.
15. Muqbil al-Wadiʿi, Al-Musaraʿa (The wrestle) (n.p. 1992), p. 475.
16. François Burgat and Muʾhammad Sbitli, “Les Salafis au Yémen ou la modernisation malgré tout,” Chroniques Yéménites, 10 (2002), https://journals.openedition.org/cy/137#article-137.
17. Paul Dresch, A History of Modern Yemen (Cambridge University Press 2000), pp. 5–6.
20. Al-shabab al-islami.
21. Shabab al-sahwa. Madawi Al-Rasheed, Contesting the Saudi State: Islamic Voices from a New Generation (Cambridge University Press 2007), p. 65.
23. Martin Kramer, “Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?” Middle East Quarterly 10, no. 2 (2003): 65–77; Voltaire, Essai sur les moeurs et l’esprit des nations et sur les principaux faits de l’histoire depuis Charlemagne jusqu’à Louis XIII (Bordas 1990), vol. 1, ch. 7.
24. Amélie Le Renard, A Society of Young Women: Opportunities of Place, Power, and Reform in Saudi Arabia (Stanford University Press 2014).
25. Talal Asad, Secular Translations: Nation-State, Modern Self, and Calculating Reason (Columbia University Press 2018), p. 9.
26. Asad, Secular Translations, p. 9. I thank Omer Shah for pointing me to this page.
27. Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton University Press 2005), p. xi.
28. Al-ʿamal al-islami.
29. Talal Asad, “The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam,” Qui Parle 17, no. 2 (2009): 1–30; Mahmood, Politics of Piety; Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counter-Publics (Columbia University Press 2006).
30. Samuli Schielke, “Second Thoughts about an Anthropology of Islam, or How to Make Sense of Grand Schemes in Everyday Life,” ZMO Working Papers 2 (2010): 2, 10, 12.
31. Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean (University of California Press 2006), pp. 11–12.
32. Eldon Rutter, The Holy Cities of Arabia (G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1928), vol. 2, pp. 256–257, quoted in John Willis, “Governing the Living and the Dead: Mecca and the Emergence of the Saudi Biopolitical State,” American Historical Review 122, no. 2 (2017): 362.
33. Hussam Dakkak, “Makkah’s Belongings,” in Mecca: The Lived City, colloquium held at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, May 3, 2019.
34. “Graves in Riyadh cemeteries to be specified electronically,” Arab News, March 24, 2012.
35. Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 39–40.
36. Al-Rasheed, Contesting the Saudi State, p. 19. “Death-world” is an expression created by Mbembe in “Necropolitics,” p. 40. The “death of the street” is an expression from Le Corbusier (see below, chapter 4).