Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, stressed on Tuesday that “we cannot advance... with the presence of extremist thought in the Kingdom.”
In an interview aired on Saudi TV to mark the fifth anniversary of Vision 2030, he cautioned that any Saudi with extremist views, even if that person hasn't yet committed a crime, “is a criminal.”
Extremism would hamper economic growth and development, he stated.
“Our constitution is the Quran. It has been, it is and will continue to be,” Crown Prince Mohammed said, stressing that religious moderation is key.
“We, as a government, or the Shura Council as a legislator, or the King as a reference for the three authorities, we are bound to implement the Quran in some form or another,” he explained.
“But in social and personal affairs, we are only obliged to implement stipulations that are clearly stated in the Quran. So, I cannot enforce a Sharia punishment without a clear Quranic stipulation or an explicit stipulation from the Sunnah,” he said.
“When we commit ourselves to following a certain school or scholar, this means we are deifying human beings. God did not put a barrier between Himself and people,” he continued.
“If Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab were with us today and he found us committed blindly to his texts and closing our minds to interpretation and jurisprudence while deifying and sanctifying him he would be the first to object to this. There are no fixed schools of thought and there is no infallible person.”
“We should engage in continuous interpretation of Quranic texts and the same goes for the sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed, and all fatwas should be based on the time, place, and mindset in which they are issued.”
“Our role is to make sure all the laws passed in Saudi Arabia reflect the following: One, that they do not violate the Quran and the Sunnah; the Quran being our constitution, that they do not contradict our interests, that they preserve the security and interests of citizens, and that they help in the development and prosperity of the country,” stressed Crown Prince Mohammed.
“If you aim to attract 100 million tourists to create three million jobs, and you say that you are following something new other than common laws and international norms, then those tourists will not come to you,” he noted.
“If you want to double foreign investments, as if we have done, from five million to 17 million, and you tell investors to invest in your country that is running on an unknown system that their lawyers do not know how to navigate nor know how those regulations are applied and enforced, then those investors will just cut their losses and not invest all together,” he added.
“If you want millions of jobs, if you want unemployment to decline, if you want the economy to grow, if you want your income to improve, you must eradicate extremism,” he urged.
“Extremists should not be representing our religion, nor our divine principles in any way, shape or form. So, no doubt this is a crime that has resulted in the creation of terrorist groups that have killed people throughout the world, killed Saudis, and wasted so many economic opportunities. This is a criminal act, criminalized based on the laws in Saudi Arabia. So, any person that adopts an extremist approach, even if he were not a terrorist, is a criminal and will face the full force of the law,” he vowed.
“If your identity cannot withstand the diversity of the world, it means your identity is weak and you need to do without it,” he stressed. “If your identity is robust and authentic and you can grow and develop it, and promote its positive sides, then you will have preserved and strengthened your identity.”
“I believe that our identity is very strong, and we are proud of it. It is mainly driven by you, me, and every citizen in Saudi Arabia and the movement taking place in Saudi Arabia and based on our Saudi identity, which is derived from our Islamic, Arabic and historical culture and heritage,” said Crown Prince Mohammed.