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The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project
  • Author Image
    Krithika Varagur
  • Publisher Logo
    Columbia Global Reports

The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project

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  • Krithika Varagur
  • Columbia Global Reports
  • Paperback
  • 9781733623766
  • 7.4 X 5 X 0.8 inches
  • 0.35 pounds
  • Religion > Islam - General
  • English
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Book Description

An award-winning journalist follows the money to track the pervasive spread of Saudi Arabia's particular brand of ultraconservative Islam....Riveting. -- Kirkus, Starred Review

Everyone talks about Saudi money, but no one really knows what it is. Journalist Krithika Varagur, a longtime chronicler of religion and politics, tells the story of Saudi influence as it has never been told before, in a book reported across the breadth of the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Indonesia to Kosovo.

The Call connects the dots on Saudi Arabia's campaign to propagate its brand of ultraconservative Islam worldwide after it became oil-rich in the 20th century. Varagur visits diverse outposts of its influence, from a Saudi university in Jakarta to a beleaguered Shi'a movement in Nigeria. She finds that the campaign has had remarkably broad and sometimes uniform effects, from the intolerance of religious minorities to the rise of powerful Saudi-educated clerics. The kingdom has spent billions of dollars on its da'wa, or call to Islam, at many points with the direct support of the United States. But what have been the lasting effects of Saudi influence today? And what really happened to their campaign in the 21st century, after oil revenues slumped and after their activities became increasingly subject to international scrutiny? Drawing upon dozens of interviews, government records, and historical research, The Call lays out what we really talk about when we talk about Saudi money.

The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project

Author Bio

Krithika Varagur has sailed to the tiny Indonesian spice island once traded for Manhattan, gone on pilgrimage with Albanian Sufis, circled the US by train as an Amtrak Writer-in-Residence, dog-sledded above the Arctic Circle, and retraced the footsteps of Victorian naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace throughout Southeast Asia as a National Geographic Explorer. She is an award-winning American journalist, author, essayist, and humorist, now on staff at the Wall Street Journal, where she writes a weekly column in the Life & Arts section about contemporary work culture. 

Her first book The Call: Inside the Global Saudi Religious Project was published by Columbia Global Reports in April 2020 and received a Kirkus starred review. She reported it from three continents to illustrate how the Saudi proselytization of Wahhabi Islam transformed the Muslim world. She was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in 2020 by the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

Her work has been published in numerous outlets including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Economist’s 1843 Magazine, The London Review of Books, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, NPR, The Intercept, The Daily Beast, CNN Style, The Drift, the Associated Press, and The Caravan. She has been based in the US since spring 2020, covering topics including racial justice and policing. From 2016 to 2020, she reported widely on religion and politics in Southeast and South Asia. She has been the primary correspondent in Indonesia for The Guardian and the Financial Times. 

Her reporting has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, the International Reporting Project, the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Amtrak Writer Residency, the WITS Africa-China Reporting Project, the Overseas Press Club Foundation, the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Several of her stories have won Religion News Association awards. She is a contributing editor at The Drift magazine.

Her recent work includes a three-part series for the New York Review of Books on the aftermath of the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis and features on police reform in Oregon and police brutality in Minnesota. In Southeast Asia, she covered landmark elections in Jakarta and Malaysia, broke investigations into labor conditions at Ivanka Trump’s clothing factory in West Java (for The Guardian) and grave desecration by Donald Trump’s business partner in Indonesia (for The Washington Post), reported from the public flogging of gay Indonesians in Aceh, chronicled the reunions of Timor-Leste's stolen children, and profiled immigrants who were deported from her hometown to Indonesia. 

She has also reported from India, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, the Balkans, Kenya, and Nigeria and written about things like museums, “museums,” malls, US foreign policy, and the oldest storytelling painting in the world. She has corresponded on-air for CNBC, NPR, Democracy Now!, BBC Newshour and Outside Source, Deutsche Welle, CBC News, and more.

Varagur has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she was a Fulbright scholar and received the annual Alistair Cooke Award in Journalism. She has also worked as a reporter and editor at the Huffington Post in New York, where she was hired out of college on the basis of her contributions to the Harvard Lampoon’s parody, “HuffPsst.” She continues to write humor and satire today for publications like 

The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Awl (RIP), as well as occasional essays and criticism. She is HEFAT-certified through RPS Solutions in England, with support from the Rory Peck Trust, and speaks Tamil, Spanish, and Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian). Her first news story, about the Château de Fontainebleau, was published during teenage internship at the New York Times’  Paris bureau and she became a contributing writer to Vogue India at 21. She is a member of the Newswomen’s Club of New York, the Explorer’s Club, the Frontline Club in London, and the Overseas Press Club. She was on season 17 of the BBC quiz show Mastermind.

 

Source: krithikavaragur.com

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