Riyadh ‘returning to moderate Islam’

Riyadh ‘returning to moderate Islam’

Riyadh ‘returning to moderate Islam’

Powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged a “moderate, open” Saudi Arabia on Oct. 24, breaking with ultra-conservative clerics in favor of an image catering to foreign investors and Saudi youth.

“We are returning to what we were before -- a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he said at an economic forum in Riyadh.

“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today. We will end extremism very soon,” he added.

The crown prince’s statement is the most direct attack by a Saudi official on the Gulf country’s influential conservative religious circles.

Prince Mohammed has pushed ahead with reforms since his appointment on June 21.

Authorities have vied to modernize certain sectors in the kingdom, hinting that long-banned cinemas would soon be permitted as part of ambitious reforms for a post-oil era that could shake up the austere kingdom’s cultural scene.

The young prince is widely regarded as being the force behind King Salman’s decision last month to lift a decades-long ban prohibiting women from driving.

Monitors, including Amnesty International, say Saudi Arabia has in parallel stepped up its repression of peaceful rights activists.

Moderate Islam,