Once upon a time, in a far away land of sand dunes and palm trees, there lived a handsome prince named Alwaleed binTalat. This prince lived in a beautiful palace and he had everything his heart desired. Because he was wise, Prince Talat looked at all the poor people in his kingdom and realised that sooner or later they would want to be rich like him. So the handsome prince gave them religion. “If the people follow the good laws of this religion,” he reasoned to his very, very wealthy family, they will be content and happy with what they have.”
“What if they refuse these very good laws,” the king asked dubiously. “Then they may want our money and our cars and our planes?”
“Simple!” said the handsome prince, who had already thought all this through quite carefully. “We will chop off their heads and that will make everyone else content to obey.”
“But,” said the king, “if we do that, surely they will hate us and take all our riches anyway?”
“Never fear, father,” said the handsome prince, “we will use our minions to oversee the details and the people will fear them, not us! I have also thought that we should hide the women of this land,” he added. “Many of them are very beautiful, which makes them desirable to men and that desire would make the men less religious.”
“Hide them!” the king and the other princes (who were also handsome and very, very rich) were aghast. “Where?”
“We’ll just cover them up,” prince Talat explained. “Our minions will make sure they are swathed from head to toe in black cloth so that their beauty will be invisible. And if they don’t listen, they will be beaten.”
The princes wailed at that because they liked the beautiful women. Prince Talat smiled wisely. “Not our women, silly!” he explained. “We will choose the best and keep them in our very opulent palaces and pet them whenever we want to. But when they go out they must also cover themselves up in case the men of our land begin to desire them.”
So the princes agreed and Chop Chop Square was designated as the place to remove the heads of those people who were not religious enough. And sometimes, if they were in a generous mood, the minions just took off their hands or their feet instead. Even then, the people did not always appreciate what was being done to keep them very religious and they hated the minions and feared them.
One day, Prince Talat decided that he was bored with sand-dunes and palm trees and saw that countries in the West looked better than his. First he bought big pieces of land in those countries and built grand palaces. He organised holidays, collected lots of beautiful women and held grand parties, but soon that too became boring.
“If we sent minions to those countries, we could give them our religion,” he said to the king. “If we are very wise, we could bring the foreign lands of the West under our power and make the people ecstatically happy!”
“It’s a good plan,” the king said, “but they have beliefs of their own.”
“They don’t know that ours is better,” Prince Talat said.
The king massaged his bearded chin thoughtfully. “We would have to make them want it,” he said. “That might be difficult. They keep the precepts of their religion through faith in a God they love. It’s the glue of their democracies.”
“We could spend money to undermine their beliefs,” one of the other princes interjected. “That would leave them open to accepting the noble tenets of our religion.”
“Good thinking,” the King said with approval. “The rulers are easily bought – they worship our wealth. Money can be used to change anything.”
“Family is a good place to start,” Talat suggested. “Its sanctity is central to most beliefs. We could promote some major moral changes that would turn marriage on its head.” He named a few and there was a clamour of protest.
“That would go against our religion as well; they would never accept such a thing!”
“Trust me,” Prince Talat said. “Given time, I think it can be accomplished. After that, we will persuade the West to allow our most religious citizens to enter their lands in large numbers. There will be a need to scare the Westerners a little at first. But our minions will despise the evil way the foreigners live and will naturally resort to chopping off their heads as we have taught them to do.”
“We could cause a few explosions,” the king said enthusiastically, “fly a few planes into buildings, that sort of thing?”
“Exactly!” the prince said, wishing he had thought of that. “The most important thing is to put someone in power over there who will be One of Us.”
“One of my sons?” The king appeared worried as he looked around the room.
“No, not one of the princes, but someone who can be persuaded to follow us completely.”
The king looked relieved. “In that case, we will buy such a leader and teach him our religion,” he said. “He won’t necessarily need to follow it himself, but he can be used to alter his peoples’ thinking through clever speech and manipulation.”
So many years passed and Prince Talat implemented all the plans with the help of their puppet president in the far-off Western land, which was a big one with very few sand-dunes and palm trees. There were a lot of inhabitants, which was a drawback, but once they became religious and their women were hidden, heads could be chopped off in large numbers, which would make living conditions much more comfortable for the king and his princes.
The inhabitants of this far country were compliant and gave Prince Talat very few problems. They had no objection to the building of many places of worship for the citizens of the prince’s land, who were now pouring into the new country in vast numbers. Their own beloved president assured them that the foreigners were a peace-loving people, despite their propensity to lop off heads at the most unexpected moments. So the citizens of the land agreed with the president that a few heads here and there did not destroy the perception that the religion these newcomers practised was peaceful.
In a moment of true benevolence, Prince Talat promised to donate all his great wealth to making his own people happy and accepted. In actual fact, he had more wealth hidden away in various places anyway, and was not really intent on going broke.
One of their religious holidays, known as the holy month of Ramadan, was coming to an end. It had been supremely successful with nearly three thousand people blown-up, beheaded or otherwise exterminated, while nearly 4,000 had been injured. To mark this great achievement, which Prince Talat was sure they could improve on next time round, he instructed the president to light up the Empire State building in green.
The president, of course, obliged, knowing that they were already part and parcel of the prince’s empire so it was not likely to offend anyone. And as the country was asleep anyway, no one had noticed that they were celebrating someone else’s religion.
Green, being a go-ahead sort of colour, was the signal for Prince Talat to implement the final stages of his plan to enslave the men and hide the women, which was a good thing as it would purge the land of evil in the end. And so they all lived happily ever after – especially the king and his princes who were now wealthier than ever before.
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