(Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. Learn to take a joke; you’ll live longer.)
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince has said that the non-Muslims “have the right to have their own religion” and that formal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims could be mutually beneficial.
The comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that were given in an interview to The Dependent reflected the distinctly warmer tone toward non-Muslims adopted recently by the de facto ruler of a powerful Arab country that has often opposed many non-Muslims’ right to exist, or at the very least the right to exist as equals.
The Saudi Crown Prince and the Saudi non-Muslims still have no formal relations, and Saudi leaders have historically criticized the non-Muslims for their existence, “especially in the shape of Iran.”
But the kingdom’s stance toward non-Muslims – both within and outside of Islam – has changed with the rise of Prince Mohammed, who is 32 and is seeking to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s economy.
“Excommunications and genocides, including the calls for them, will damage us economically, so we’re going to steer clear of that henceforth,” the Crown Prince said in the interview.
Instead of seeing the non-Muslims as an enemy, Prince Mohammed has come to view the demographic as an attractive economic and technological hub as well as a potential partner in the kingdom’s cold war with economic insecurities. And part of that is the non-Muslims’ right to exist, preferably in the context of a peace deal with the Muslims.
“They’re not really kafir, you know,” he maintained in his interview with The Dependent.