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Monday, November 27, 2023

Saudi Crown Prince faces backlash for un-Islamic policies?

Under Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom is going through dramatic changes. Saudi Arabi hosted its first-ever film festival, allowed concerts with top Bollywood actors performing, and even hinted at normalizing ties with Israel. However, such initiatives have sparked criticism.

Saudi Prince Salman is facing backlash on social media for his seemingly un-Islamic policies. “” trends on Twitter as Pakistani netizens accuse Saudi Arabia of blasphemy.

The accusation comes owing to the latest changes in Saudi Arabia’s domestic and international policies, which have apparently angered Twitteratis. Important to note, Saudi Arabia is the custodian of the Holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Such policies are in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia, which is also the leading nation of the Muslim world.

To clarify, Saudi Arabia, in its latest round of transformation under Saudi Vision 2030 allowed concerts and fashion shows. Recently, Saudi Arabia hosted its first-ever film festival and lifted the ban on cinemas. Top Bollywood actor Salman Khan along with actress Shilpa Shetty performed a concert to super hit songs. Other Indian celebrities included Saiee Manjrekar, Manish Paul, Prabhu Deva, Sohail Khan, Sunil Grover, and Kamaal Khan.

Read more: Salman Khan performs in Riyadh, gets honoured by Saudi Arabia

Interestingly, Prince Salman himself invited the Bollywood group. He also honored Salman Khan by adding his handprints to the Wall of Fame in Riyadh. Prior to this, globally popular Canadian singer Justin Bieber held a concert in Jeddah where he performed some of his most popular hits.

Needless to say, this sparked outrage. Since music is widely considered “haraam” in Islam, netizens expressed anger at the live musical concert, that too in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia’s international relations garner criticism

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic relations also sparked controversy. Twitteratis raised objections to Prince Salman’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Last week, Emmanuel Macron visited Saudi Arabia after trips to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to discuss the Lebanese crisis. As a result of the meeting, France and Saudi Arabia will work together to offer essential humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, which is facing an economic crisis brought on by failures in government and pervasive corruption.

However, Saudi Arabia’s decision to work together with France received criticism due to the latter’s treatment of Muslims. In an attempt for a secular state, the French government’s policies target Muslims for example banning the headscarf and allowing blasphemous content on Prophet Muhammad under the context of “freedom of speech.”

Read more: Turkish President Erdogan vows action over ‘disgusting’ Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Similarly, Saudi Arabia also announced that it is ready to normalize relations with Israel based on the 2002 Arab initiative proposal for peace. Al-Mouallimi, the kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN revealed that Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel as soon as Israel implements the elements of the Saudi peace initiative.

As a result of the initiative, Israel will have recognition “not only from Saudi Arabia but the entire Muslim world, all 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980. The move has never been recognized by the international community. Additionally, Israel consistently conducts massive human rights violations against the Palestinians.

Read more: UN experts concerned over Israeli violence in occupied Palestinian territory

Vision 2030: A modern Saudi Arabia

Important to note, the Kingdom is looking to open up new avenues as it aims for a “modernized” Saudi Arabia. With Vision 2030, Prince Salman aims to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil. For this, he is initiating new policies and opening the Kingdom to the international community by promoting concerts, fashion shows, sporting events, etc.

Such initiatives will attract foreign investors which will diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and create dynamic job opportunities for its citizens.