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Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia defends his reform plans, wants country to return to moderate Islam

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia defended his plans for social reform in the conservative Middle Eastern country – including the new law permitting women to drive. He did this during a major investment conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, yesterday.

According to ABC News, the conference was initiated for the country to put a “spotlight on the country’s efforts to diversify its revenue streams and overhaul its economy and society.”

While going on the defence of his bold reform plans and discussing the recent order signed by his 81-year-old father, King Salman, allowing women to drive, he said in part, “We were not like this in the past.”

The 32-year-old Crown Prince added that the country needed to go back to the way they used to be in regard to Islam saying, “We want to go back to what we were: moderate Islam…which is open to the world and all religions.”

He also asked the world to help transform Saudi Arabia into being a more open country that empowers its citizens.

Speaking to the Guardian, he explained that what has occurred in the country over the past 30 years was due to “rigid doctrines” that governed their society in response to the Iranian Revolution. These actions, he said, were not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East, “What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”

His Royal Highness said that Saudi Arabia would work hard to fight and eliminate Islamic extremism, adding that they wanted Saudis around the world to live in harmony with their fellow human beings.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, “We will eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon” and later added, “We represent the moderate teachings and principles of Islam.”

While being praised by the likes of Stephen Schwarzman of U.S. private equity firm Blackstone and others for his passion and vision, he modestly stated, “I am one of 20 million people. I am nothing without them.”

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