Crown Prince’s pledge an example for those Muslim countries which support extremism and harbour terrorists; comments observers
RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s categorical statement on Tuesday was absolutely an eye-opener and an example for those Muslim countries which are blamed for supporting terrorism, extremism and harbouring terrorists. He pledged a return to a moderate past and looked forward to a technology-driven future.
“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh.
“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he added.
The crown prince addressed an audience of thousands of global investors and dignitaries who visited the Saudi capital to hear first-hand how the country’s society and economy are being transformed. He said: “Saudi Arabia was not like this before 1979. We want to go back to what we were, the moderate Islam that’s open to all religions. We want to live a normal life.”
The remarks set a new tone for a country that is undergoing unprecedented economic and social reforms as it reduces its reliance on oil revenues while creating thousands of new jobs for a youthful population.
They also spoke to the needs of a country where 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30, with millions of young Saudis set to enter the workforce in the next decade.
At the same time, the government is challenging long-established social norms by ending a ban on women driving and signaling a move to open up the entertainment sector.
Last week, the Kingdom’s Culture and Information Ministry said it planned to monitor interpretations of Islamic teachings used to justify violence or terrorism.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, welcomed the crown prince’s resolute stand against extremism and terrorism and said Saudi Arabia’s efforts in the last two years had begun to bear fruit.
“Saudi Arabia leads the anti-Daesh coalition as well as a sustained campaign against terror and its extremist ideology and the campaign has broken the back of terrorism,” he said.