The landmark foreign trips by the Crown Prince


Al-Jazirah newspaper

THE landmark visits by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to Egypt, which is the heart of the Arab world, as well as to Britain reminded the world of the original image of Islam as a moderate faith that calls for dialogue between religions and cultures and the defeat of extremism propagated by certain hard-line groups.

Western Orientalists tried to portray Islam as a religion of extremism in the minds of officials associated with academic and media institutions, emphasizing the need for the historical necessity of a clash of civilizations, specifically between Islam and Christianity.

Since ascending the Saudi throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated a series of efforts to fight terrorism and extremism, including the rehabilitation and counseling program for militants. He also established King Abdulaziz National Dialogue Center in Riyadh in 2003 and King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna, Austria, in 2012.

It was followed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman’s historical initiatives, notably the establishment of the Center of Moderation in Riyadh in 2017. He wanted the center to become the first reference in the world in terms of combating extremist thoughts and ideas and promoting a culture of moderation. King Salman also established a Hadith complex in October 2017, which is named after him.

The Kingdom has been actively involved in thousands of initiatives and conferences that emphasized the new identity of a moderate Saudi state aspiring to strengthen its economy, protect its borders, and develop its educational, cultural and religious institutions.

The recent visit of the Crown Prince comes as another attempt to emphasize the Kingdom’s transparency and its bold initiatives. Prince Muhammad wants to convey an important message to the world that henceforth Saudi Arabia would build itself with the support of its capable young men and women and overcome the mistakes of the past by working hard for a better future.

Some analysts have spoken about the historical, cultural and religious dimensions of the young prince’s visits, which took him to Cairo’s Al-Azhar University where he appreciated the institution’s leading role in spreading a culture of moderation, coexistence and peace and in opposing extremist ideologies. He also visited the Coptic Cathedral in Mansoura.

Standing in the center of the church he told the world that Saudi Arabia being the land of Islamic sanctities and divine revelations would stand by all other religions, exchange love with followers of other faiths and extend its hands to others to promote peace, love and brotherhood, away from all sort of intolerance and hatred.

We have realized after bitter conflicts and failures that the issue is centered on “conflict of ideas”, which has taken us and the entire world to a frightening field of killings and counter-killings.

In order to exterminate extremism we have to cut its arteries that feed it the same way we fight cancer. We should uproot terrorist ideas that are nestled consciously or unconsciously in the minds of those who hold important positions in various governmental and private institutions, especially individuals who can influence the poor and ordinary people who can be easily deceived.

The institutions of society must open their eyes to the reformist program adopted by King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and senior government officials to safeguard Islam from attempts to hijack it and link it with extremism and terrorism, and present it as a religion that is relevant to all ages and places. The extreme narrow views about Islam promulgated by terrorists and their sponsors threaten the very existence of Muslims as well as world peace.

We have to adopt the reformist ideas of Islamic discourse and apply it within our national institutions inside and outside the Kingdom. However, the most important thing is to apply it within the Kingdom and this requires special attention and decisive action from the part of the Crown Prince. Surgical operations will be painful and may cause bleeding but it saves life in the end and this is what we need today. It is a difficult and complex task but I am sure the young prince can do it.