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Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has vowed to return the country to ‘moderate Islam’ and asked for global support to transform the hardline kingdom into an open society that empowers citizens and lures investors.

In an interview with the Guardian, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne said the ultra-conservative state had been “not normal” for the past 30 years, blaming rigid doctrines that have governed society in a reaction to the Iranian revolution, which successive leaders “didn’t know how to deal with”.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it”.

Central to the reforms has been the breaking of an alliance between hardline clerics who have long defined the national character and the House of Saud, which has run affairs of state. The changes have tackled head-on social taboos, such as a ban on women driving, scaling back guardianship laws that restrict women’s roles and establishing an Islamic centre tasked with certifying the sayings of the prophet Muhammed.

 

From an article, ‘I will return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam, says crown prince’, by Martin Chulov in Riyadh, for The Guardian.