SALAFIYYAH AND THE EARTHLY GOVERNMENTS ARE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK PT 7

Figure 1A: As Salafiyyah begins a new era, it seeks to wipe away its true history and overwrite it with something more palatable for millennials.

Please take a look at the following article below to get an idea of Salafiyyah’s new wave of heavy editing in order to put on a new face to people in the Anglosphere but also international school graduate Muslims who are re-igniting their passion in Arabia’s past and want to study some of the more recent social and religious upheavals.

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Saudi Arabia uses ancient tourist site to alter its history

 AYA BATRAWY,Associated Press Sat, 21 Apr 19:22 BST

In this March 8, 2018 photo, workers restore the Al Sarreha Mosque in the 18th century Diriyah fortified complex, that once served as the seat of power for the ruling Al Saud, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UNESCO World Heritage site lies in a conservative, arid patch of the country and is unlikely to feature high on any bucket lists for world travelers, but the kingdom is hoping to alter perceptions as it prepares to open the country to tourist visas and international tour groups later this year.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

DIRIYAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Just outside Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, a group of elementary school children are on a field trip at Diriyah, where engineers and construction workers are busy restoring a 17th-century fortress, mosques and clay-colored structures that were once the ruling family’s seat of power.

The UNESCO World Heritage site lies in a conservative, arid patch of the country and is unlikely to feature high on any bucket lists for world travelers, but the kingdom is hoping to alter perceptions as it prepares to open the country to tourist visas and international tour groups later this year.

Diriyah lies at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to both control the narrative of its past for future generations of Saudis and to revamp its image to curious world travelers.

It’s an especially important site to the ruling Al Saud family because it’s here where the first Saudi dynasty was founded in the 15th century. The architecture here is associated with the tribes of Najd, the landlocked region in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula that is now home to Riyadh and surrounding cities.

In the 18th century, Diriyah rose to become once again the center of power for the Al Saud, but fell under Ottoman control in the early 19th century. It would take more than a century for the Al Sauds to reclaim Diriyah and found the current Saudi state— named after its ruling family.

Today, much of Diriyah remains closed to the public as authorities work to restore it to its former glory — except this time fitted with the modern comforts of air conditioning and plumbing. The area around the fortress resembles a modern desert oasis with palm trees, parks, restaurants and coffee shops, drawing young Saudis and families in the cooler months looking for green, open spaces away from the congested streets of Riyadh.

“There is an amazing amount of history here,” said Chris Brooks, who frequently comes to Riyadh on business. With a few hours to spare between meetings, he decided to visit Diriyah and take some photos to share with his family back in the U.K.

Still, it’s not a place he’d encourage his family to visit just yet.

“It’s going to take some convincing families to want to come here,” he said. “To open up, you need it to be more welcoming, more accessible. It takes a lot of time to get a visa to come here and if they address those issues then I think, yeah, more people will come here. There is just so much to see.”

For the kingdom’s 32-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Diriyah is part of a much larger national project to overhaul the country’s economy and make it more resilient in the face of lower oil prices. Boosting domestic spending and opening the country to foreign tourists are seen as ways to create more jobs for the millions of young Saudis who will be entering the workforce and looking for jobs in the coming years.

The religiously conservative country ran a pilot program between 2006 and 2010 welcoming around 25,000 visitors annually to see Saudi Arabia’s ancient archaeological sites and vast landscapes of mountains, coastline, valleys, volcanoes and deserts.

Though Saudi Arabia may seem an unlikely destination for a holiday, it boasts regions where ancient Christian and Jewish communities once thrived, historic forts, a stunning Red Sea coastline and a diverse culture molded by ancient trade and pilgrimage routes.

Saudi tourism authorities are planning to open five museums inside Diriyah and a research center named after Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abdul-Wahhab, whose ultraconservative teachings of Islam in the 18th century are widely referred to as “Wahhabism” in his name.

Abdul-Wahhab was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the current Saudi state who helped the Al Saud family conquer tribes by using both the sword and the gospel. His legacy, however, is also associated with some of the most extreme interpretations of Islam that have been used to justify killings by al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

A descendent of Abdul-Wahhab, Abdulmajeed Al-Sheikh, has worked as a tour guide in Diriyah for the past 12 years. He says the research center will be a place for Islamic scholars and academics to learn about the principles of Abdul-Wahhab’s teachings and how he helped unite disparate Arab tribes under the banner of Islam.

In a short presentation shown to visitors of Diriyah, Abdul-Wahhab is described as a moderating force — as someone who revived the true teachings of Islam that were first revealed to Prophet Muhammad in Mecca some 1,400 years ago.

“His words basically say that if you don’t do this you should be killed. You’re a non-believer. It’s not an obscure part of his writing,” said David Commins, a professor at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and scholar on Islam in Saudi Arabia. “For them to rewrite the creed of Ibn Abdel-Wahhab and say it’s something else they’re going to have to do some heavy editing.”

For Saudi visitors, the center could serve as a way to reinterpret Abdul-Wahhab’s teachings as the crown prince pushes forth social reforms that curb the influence of Wahhabism. For foreigners, it’s a way for the government to put forth its own narrative about one of the country’s most controversial figures.

Natana DeLong-Bas, a professor at Boston College and the author of “Wahhabi Islam,” says that for more than a decade the kingdom’s rulers have been trying to create a sense of “wasatiya and wataniya” or moderation and patriotism among Saudi citizens.

“Religion is welcome as something that drives morals and ethics, but it is not going to be as linked to state activities as it has in the past,” she said.

Tourism official Salah Altaleb, who’s overseeing investments in the tourism sector, said visits to sites like Diriyah will help tourists “correct” the image they may have of Saudi Arabia.

“Once they come here and see the country, I think the marketing literature tells us that they would go back and tell their family and friends and relatives about what they experienced and things will start to change then,” he said.

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Follow Aya Batrawy on twitter at https://twitter.com/ayaelb .

ANGLOSPHERE ISSUES: THE FIGHT FOR ENGLISH IDENTITY JUST HIT HISTORY BOOKS

Figure 1A: Just your average English couple. Know what I mean?

Please see the article below and consider how the battle is on as people jockey for fighting stances on Englishness. Why are some people trying to make this so difficult? English is a West German dialect that later became a pidgin when large helpings of Greek, Latin and French were added, enabling different people to communicate. This later coalesced into what we now know as English proper today.

Yet people are now not content to just let history do the talking; now they are redacting today’s polarised positions back into the past.

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These ancient skeletons totally annihilate a popular right-wing talking point

For decades, archaeologists and geneticists have sought to identify Anglo-Saxons in England.

The idea that there is a common Anglo-Saxon ancestry based on biology is gaining currency among some right-wing and religious groups in the UK and US.

In the UK, the new leader of the UK Independence Party, Henry Bolton, suggested in a radio interview in October that “in certain communities the indigenous Anglo-Saxon population is nowhere to be seen.”

In August, a religious group called the Odinist Fellowship wrote to the Church of England demanding two churches as reparations for a “spiritual genocide” which it claims began in the seventh century AD.

The Odinists use old Icelandic texts to reconstruct the “indigenous” religion of the Anglo-Saxons which they claim was oppressed with the arrival of Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons are commonly believed to have migrated into Briton in the fifth and sixth century AD. Iceland by contrast was inhabited in the ninth century by Viking settlers. In the US, this mixed up medievalism is associated with the white supremacist alt-right who use Anglo-Saxon and Viking motifs.

But archaeological research, which examines ancient DNA and artefacts to explore who these “indigenous” Anglo-Saxons were, shows that the people of fifth and sixth century England had a mixed heritage and did not base their identity on a biological legacy. The very idea of the Anglo-Saxon ancestor is a more recent invention linked closely with the English establishment.

Listen: The Anthill podcast episode on myths includes a segment on myths about race

 

The Anthill 20: Myths.
CC BY-ND38.2 MB (download)What DNA evidence showsFor decades, archaeologists and geneticists have sought to identify Anglo-Saxons in England. An early attempt in 2002 relied on modern DNA with a study of the male Y chromosome suggesting there had been a 95% population replacement of Britons by the Anglo-Saxons, comprised of different people from Northern Europe. But another study, based on mitochondrial DNA which is inherited from the mother, found no evidence of significant post-Roman migration into England. A third paper suggested that the genetic contribution of the Anglo-Saxons in south-eastern England was under 50%.

The discrepancies between the findings are because these three papers used modern DNA and worked backwards. Work my colleagues and I have undertaken looked at the question from the other direction – by working with ancient DNA.

The results from our recent study were published in Nature Communicationsand included evidence from an Anglo-Saxon site I excavated in Oakington, Cambridgeshire. In total ten skeletons were investigated. These included seven early medieval graves dating to between the fifth and eighth century – four from Oakington and three from Hinxton – and three earlier Iron Age graves from Cambridgeshire, dating to between the second century BC and the first century AD, to provide the genome of the antecedent inhabitants of Briton.

We used a novel method called “rarecoal” to look at ancestry based on the sharing of rare alleles, which are the building blocks of genes. Our research concluded that migrants during what’s now thought of as the Anglo-Saxon period were most closely related to the modern Dutch and Danish – and that the modern East English population derived 38% of its ancestry from these incomers. The rest of Britain, including today’s Scottish and Welsh, share 30% of their DNA with these migrants.

The analysis of DNA of four individuals from the Oakington Anglo-Saxon cemetery identified that one of them was a match with the Iron Age genome, two were closest to modern Dutch genomes, and one was a hybrid of the two. Each of these burials was culturally Anglo-Saxon because they were buried in the same way, in the same cemetery. In fact, the richest assemblage of Anglo-Saxon artefacts came from the individual with the match for Iron Age genetic ancestry, and so was not a migrant at all.

It shows that these ancient people did not distinguish biological heritage from cultural association. In other words, someone who lived and died in the fifth or sixth century Anglo-Saxon village of Oakington could have been biologically related to an earlier inhabitant of England, a recent migrant from continental Europe or a descendent of either or both – they were all treated the same in death.

Writing Anglo-Saxons into historyBiologically then these people were a mixed group who shared what we consider Anglo-Saxon culture. But they did not think of themselves as Anglo-Saxons.

The idea of the Anglo-Saxon is a romanticised and heavily politicised notion. When Gildas, a sixth century Monk wrote De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae(On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain) he referred only to Saxons. Writing 200 years later, the Venerable Bede used the word “Anglorum” in his ecclesiastical history to describe a people unified under the church. In the ninth century, Alfred the Great used the term Anglo-Saxon to describe the extent of his realm – but this description did not persist.

It was not until the 16th century that pre-Norman people were consistently described as Anglo-Saxons. Previously, stories like the 1485 Le Morte d’Arthur, by Thomas Malory, romanticised Arthurian antagonists who defended Britain from invading Saxons. This origin story was important enough to late medieval Englishness that Henry VIII installed a round table in Winchester castle.

A convenient, but inaccurate labelIt was not until the 19th century that Anglo-Saxon poems such as Beowulf, the Seafarer and the Wanderer were translated into English as interest in Anglo-Saxons grew. In London’s National Portrait Gallery, there is a statue of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha dressed as Anglo-Saxon monarchy – a commission that equated their Germanic descent with that of their subjects. This Anglo-Saxon origin story has its roots in politics, downplayed when anti-German sentiment during World War I prompted the royals to change their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917.

The people of the fifth, sixth and seventh century certainly did not think of themselves as Anglo-Saxons and would not have understood the description. Migration into the UK took place in deep prehistory, throughout the Roman and post-Roman periods – a fact which the Classicist Mary Beard was lambasted for defending on Twitter in August.

Migration then continued with Viking settlement in the ninth and eleventh centuries. Dutch and European migration into England was present throughout the middle ages and particularly pronounced in the 16th and 17th century as Flemish weavers fled religious persecution.

Today, the term Anglo-Saxon is a convenient label for those opposed to future immigration. While it collectively describes some post-Roman and early medieval culture, it has never accurately described a biological ethnicity nor an indigenous people. The DNA evidence points to an integrated people of mixed ancestry who lived side by side.

Anglo-Saxon ancestry is a modern English myth – the English are not descended from one group of people, but from many and that persists in our culture and in our genes.

To hear more on myths about race, listen to the December episode of The Anthill podcast on myths, featuring an interview with Duncan Sayer.

By Duncan Sayer, Reader in Archaeology, University of Central Lancashire

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

ANGLOSPHERE ISSUES: THE FOUNDATIONS OF WESTERN CIVILISATION

Upon the recommendation of a colleague at a bookstore, I picked up a new translation of Homer’s Odyssey from the Greek by Emily Wilson. I had read it before but the archaic language was difficult to decipher and I struggled with some of the pronunciation of names.

This time when I approached the Odyssey, there was a very detailed 50 page introduction, a pronunciation key, notes and appendices.

In this landmark work, I also found an introduction and a translator’s note that properly brings you into the book.

For anyone studying Western Civilisation and wanting to know what are the foundational documents to get a start on forming a proper outline of it, you will need:

  1. Homer’s Iliad
  2. Homer’s Odyssey
  3. William Shakespeare’s written legacy (the first full English presentation of the language in its modern form)
  4. 1611 King James Bible (or the 1769 which holds to the original 1611 but resolves issues). This was the highest level presentation of modern (and not contemporary) English
  5. The Magna Carta

Please take a look at the video below which has a very detailed interview and brings forward some great insights.

SALAFIYYAH AND THE EARTHLY GOVERNMENTS ARE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK PT 6

Below is an article in which Muhammad Bin Salman, the trojan horse of Salafiyyah in the West, is being interviewed. In the midst of the interview, he shamelessly claims that there is no Wahhabism and has not idea what it is! (if I could have just been there for five minutes with my library on the cults…)

This is not the first time that this has happened. The reality is that this is being done as a means to gain nearness to the Muslims in particular and non-Muslims in general but first there has to be a historical revision. Don’t be surprised if Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab, false prophet and patron saint of Salafiyyah, is put across as some type of pre-cursor to women’s suffrage, slave reform or maybe even intersectionality. Stranger things have happened.

 

Another interesting part of the interview that many people are making mention of is his uncompromising stance on Israel. Why should this be a surprise? Remember the Saudi monarch met with US presidents (please check the 8:54 mark in the video) in the beginning and made agreements with him and Israel to have a non-aggression pact.

In the 1948,1956,1958,1967,1978 their armies or military support was conspicuously absent.

Sure, you might not be allowed entry/exit of you have a Israeli stamp, but this was posturing only. Same thing would happen to you if you were Sri Lankan during the Tamil Tiger uprising. It’s irrelevant.

Keep your eyes open. The monarchy and Salafiyyah are doing a makeover – perhaps similar to the Mormons – in which they will closet their theology even more while only exposing it to the initiated at the highest level.

Keep your eyes on the kingdom. They are morphing. What deception they are pulling will be cleverly done as in the near future oil continues to rule the day.

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Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’

In a wide-ranging conversation, Prince Mohammed bin Salman also recognized the Jewish people’s right to “their own land.”

This much, at least, can be said for Mohammed bin Salman, the putatively reformist crown prince of Saudi Arabia: He has made all the right enemies. Among those who would celebrate his end are the leaders of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and the entire clerical and military leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a bonus, there are members of his own family, the sprawling, sclerotic, self-dealing House of Saud, who would like to see him gone—or at the very least, warehoused at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, where the 32-year-old prince recently imprisoned many of his enemies and cousins during an anti-corruption sweep of the kingdom.

The well-protected Prince Mohammed does not seem particularly worried about mortal threats, however. He was jovial to the point of ebullience when I met him at his brother’s compound outside Washington (his brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, is the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.). Prince Mohammed (who is known widely by his initials, MbS) seemed eager to download his heterodoxical, contentious views on a number of subjects—on women’s rights (he appears doubtful about the laws that force Saudi women to travel with male relatives); on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is, in the prince’s mind, worse than Hitler; and on Israel. He told me he recognizes the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state of their own next to a Palestinian state; no Arab leader has ever acknowledged such a right.

Prince Mohammed, who is on a seemingly endless pilgrimage to the nodes of American power (he is in Hollywood this week) is an unfamiliar type for Middle East reporters accustomed to a certain style of Saudi leadership, which is to say, the functionally comatose model of authoritarian monarchism. Prince Mohammed’s father, the 82-year-old King Salman, is not overly infirm, but it is clear that his son is already in charge. And if the prince, his many handlers, and his partisans on Wall Street and in the White House (especially his fellow prince, Jared Kushner) are to be believed, he is in a genuine hurry to overturn the traditional Saudi order.

Prince Mohammed’s visit to the U.S. is mainly a hunting trip for investment, and an opportunity for him to sell his so-called Vision 2030, an elaborate, still mainly unexecuted plan to modernize the Kingdom and end its dependence on oil. But in our conversation, I tried to focus Prince Mohammed on some of the more challenging problems of the moment, including his country’s cold war with Iran; its often-brutal military intervention in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthi; the status of women in a country that has practiced a form of gender apartheid for decades; Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Israel and the Palestinians; and his country’s own past support for Muslim extremists of the type he now condemns. I did not ask him about corruption, in part because it is a difficult-to-define concept in a country named for its ruling family, the expropriation of national wealth being a defining feature of absolute monarchies. But it is worth noting that Prince Mohammed recently purchased a yacht allegedly worth half-a-billion dollars. When Norah O’Donnell, of CBS, asked the prince about this, and other purchases, he said, “My personal life is something I’d like to keep to myself and I don’t try to draw attention to it. … As far as my private expenses, I’m a rich person and not a poor person. I’m not Gandhi or Mandela.”

Prince Mohammed dodges questions he doesn’t like, but he is still unusually direct for a Saudi leader. He reminded me in our meeting of Jordan’s King Abdullah II—a new-generation royal frustrated by do-nothing relatives, retrograde tribal politics, and fearful of both Shiite and Sunni extremism. (One difference, of course, is that Saudi Arabia is the linchpin of the Middle East; Jordan is not. If Prince Mohammed actually achieves what he says he wants to achieve, the Middle East will be a changed place.)

The prince, in my conversation with him, divided the Middle East into two warring camps: what he called the “triangle of evil,” consisting of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Sunni terror groups; and an alliance of self-described moderate states that includes Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman. About his bête noir, the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Prince Mohammed said, “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. … The supreme leader is trying to conquer the world.”

Another key—though sub rosa—member of Prince Mohammed’s alliance is Israel, a country about which Prince Mohammed did not have a bad word to say. In fact, when I asked him whether he believed the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland, he said: “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.” According to the former U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross, moderate Arab leaders have spoken of the reality of Israel’s existence, but acknowledgement of any sort of “right” to Jewish ancestral land has been a red line no leader has crossed until now. (My meeting with Prince Mohammed took place before the recent fatal violence on the Gaza-Israel border, but I do not believe that the crown prince would have moderated his views in light of these events. The Saudis, like many Arab leaders, have tired of the Palestinians.)

Our conversation took place in Prince Khalid’s living room, beneath a painting depicting the 1945 meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia (and grandfather of Mohammed and Khalid). Prince Khalid joined us, as did a wide array of aides and advisers, who sat on two couches and frowned with concern when it seemed as if the prince was veering toward bluntness. They seemed worried when the conversation turned to the matter of Saudi Arabia’s “guardianship” laws, which forbid Saudi women and girls from traveling without the permission of a male sponsor. Prince Mohammed, who recently lifted a ban that kept women from driving, seemed eager to acknowledge that he wanted to bring about an end to these guardianship rules. “Before 1979 there were societal guardianship customs, but no guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia,” he said, referring to a hinge year in Saudi history, in which the Iranian revolution, as well as an extremist Sunni siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, caused a conservative backlash in the kingdom. “It doesn’t go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the 1960s women didn’t travel with male guardians. But it happens now, and we want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture.”

On issues related to human rights, openness, and the continued efficacy of the absolute monarchy model of governance, the crown prince was more circumspect and defensive, as you will see in this edited and condensed transcript of our conversation:


Goldberg: It’s good to hear about some of the things you are promising to do in Saudi Arabia, but it’s very early in the process. Yours is a big, complicated country, and it’s very hard to shift culture. Could you start by talking about Islam, the role you think Islam should play in the world?

Mohammed bin Salman: Islam is a religion of peace. This is the translation of Islam. God, in Islam, gives us two responsibilities: The first is to believe, to do good things, and not bad things. If we do bad things, God will judge us on Judgment Day.

Our second duty as Muslims is to spread the word of God. For 1,400 years, Muslims have been trying to spread the word of God. In the Middle East, in North Africa, in Europe, they weren’t allowed to spread the word. That’s why they fought to spread the word. But you also see that, in a lot of countries in Asia—Indonesia, Malaysia, India—Muslims were free to spread the word. They were told, “Go ahead, say whatever you want to say, the people have free will to believe whatever they want to believe in.” Islam, in this context, was not about conquering, it was about peacefully spreading the word.

Now, today, in the triangle of evil—

Goldberg: The triangle of evil?

MbS: Yes, I will explain in a moment. In this triangle, they are trying to promote the idea that our duty as Muslims is to reestablish the caliphate, to reestablish the mindset of the caliphate—that the glory of Islam is in building an empire by force. But God didn’t ask us to do this, and the Prophet Muhammad did not ask us to do this. God only asked us to spread the word. And this mission is accomplished. Today, every human has the right to choose their belief. In every country, it is possible to buy religious books. The message is being delivered. We have no duty anymore to fight to spread Islam. But in the triangle of evil, they want to manipulate Muslims, to tell them their duty as Muslims—their dignity as Muslims —requires the establishment of a Muslim empire.

Goldberg: About the triangle—

MbS: First in the triangle we have the Iranian regime that wants to spread their extremist ideology, their extremist Shiite ideology. They believe that if they spread it, the hidden Imam will come back again and he will rule the whole world from Iran and spread Islam even to America. They’ve said this every day since the Iranian revolution in 1979. It’s in their law and they’re proving it by their own actions.

The second part of the triangle is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is another extremist organization. They want to use the democratic system to rule countries and build shadow caliphates everywhere. Then they would transform into a real Muslim empire. And the other part is the terrorists—al-Qaeda, ISIS—that want to do everything with force. Al-Qaeda leaders, ISIS leaders, they were all Muslim Brotherhood first. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of ISIS. This is very clear.

This triangle is promoting an idea that God and Islam are not asking us to promote. Their idea is totally against the principles of the United Nations, and the idea of different nations having laws that represent their needs. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Yemen—all of these countries are defending the idea that independent nations should focus on their own interests, in building good relations on the foundation of UN principles. The evil triangle doesn’t want to do that.

Goldberg: Isn’t it true, though, that after 1979, but before 1979 as well, the more conservative factions in Saudi Arabia were taking oil money and using it to export a more intolerant, extremist version of Islam, Wahhabist ideology, which could be understood as a kind of companion ideology to Muslim Brotherhood thinking?

MbS: First of all, this Wahhabism—please define it for us. We’re not familiar with it. We don’t know about it.

Goldberg: What do you mean you don’t know about it?

MbS: What is Wahhabism?

Goldberg: You’re the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. You know what Wahhabism is.

MbS: No one can define this Wahhabism.

Goldberg: It’s a movement founded by Ibn abd al-Wahhab in the 1700s, very fundamentalist in nature, an austere Salafist-style interpretation—

MbS: No one can define Wahhabism. There is no Wahhabism. We don’t believe we have Wahhabism. We believe we have, in Saudi Arabia, Sunni and Shiite. We believe we have within Sunni Islam four schools of thought, and we have the ulema [the religious authorities] and the Board of Fatwas [which issues religious rulings]. Yes, in Saudi Arabia it’s clear that our laws are coming from Islam and the Quran, but we have the four schools—Hanbali, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki—and they argue about interpretation.

The first Saudi state, why was it established? After the Prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs, the people of the Arabian Peninsula went back to fighting each other like they did for thousands of years. But our family, 600 years ago, established a town from scratch called Diriyah, and with this town came the first Saudi state. It became the most powerful economic part of the peninsula. They helped change reality. Most other towns, they fought over trade, hijacked trade, but our family said to two other tribes, “Instead of attacking the trade routes, why don’t we hire you as guards for this area?” So trade grew, and the town grew. This was the method. Three hundred years later, this is still the way. The thought was always that you need all the great brains of the Arabian Peninsula—the generals, the tribal leaders, the scholars—working with you. One of them was Muhammad ibn abd al-Wahhab.

But our project is based on the people, on economic interests, and not on expansionist ideological interests. Of course we have things in common. All of us are Muslim, all of us speak Arabic, we all have the same culture and the same interest. When people speak of Wahhabism, they don’t know exactly what they are talking about. Abd al-Wahhab’s family, the al-Sheikh family, is today very well known, but there are tens of thousands of important families in Saudi Arabia today. And you will find a Shiite in the cabinet, you will find Shiites in government, the most important university in Saudi Arabia is headed by a Shiite. So we believe that we are a mix of Muslim schools and sects.

Goldberg: But what about the funding of extremists?

MbS: When you talk about funding before 1979, you are talking about the Cold War. You had communism spreading everywhere, threatening the United States and Europe and also us. Egypt had turned in that time to this sort of regime. We worked with whomever we could use to get rid of communism. Among those was the Muslim Brotherhood. We financed them in Saudi Arabia. And the United States of America financed them.

Goldberg: Was it a mistake?

MbS: If we went back in time, we would do the same thing. We would use these people again. Because we were confronting a bigger danger—getting rid of communism. Later on we had to see how we could deal with the Muslim Brotherhood. Remember, one of the presidents of the United States called these people freedom fighters.

We tried to control and manage their movements. But then came 1979, which exploded everything. The Iranian revolution [created] a regime based on an ideology of pure evil. A regime not working for the people, but serving an ideology. And in the Sunni world, extremists were trying to copy the same thing. We had the attack in Mecca [on the Grand Mosque]. We were in a situation of revolution in Iran, and they were trying to copy it in Mecca. We were trying to keep everything tied together, to keep everything from collapsing. We faced terrorism in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt. We called for the arrest of Osama bin Laden very early, because he was not in Saudi Arabia. We suffered quite a lot by fighting terrorism, until 9/11 happened. This is the story.

Goldberg: I spent a lot of time in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the late 1990s, early 2000s, and it was generally understood that the militant madrassas were getting money from Saudi Arabia. It seems from what you’re saying that things got out of control—your government, your family, didn’t control spending and ideological support, and then it came back and hurt not only you but your friends and allies as well. Your big project, if I understand correctly, is to try to contain some of the things that were unleashed by your country.

MbS: We used the Muslim Brotherhood in the Cold War—we did, both of us—

Goldberg: I’m not saying the U.S. is innocent here—

MbS: This is what America wanted us to do. We had a king who paid with his life trying to counter these people, King Faisal, one of the greatest kings of Saudi Arabia. When it comes to financing extremist groups, I challenge anyone if he can bring any evidence that the Saudi government financed terrorist groups. Yes, there are people from Saudi Arabia who financed terrorist groups. This is against Saudi law. We have a lot of people in jail now, not only for financing terrorist groups, but even for supporting them. One of the reasons we have a problem with Qatar is that we are not allowing them to use the financial system between us to collect money from Saudis and give it to extremist organizations.

Goldberg: You think you’ll ever be friendly again with Qatar?

MbS: It has to happen, one day. We hope they learn fast. It depends on them.

Goldberg: You speak extraordinarily bluntly about Iran and its ideology. You’ve even equated the supreme leader to Hitler. What makes him a Hitler? Hitler is the worst thing you can be.

MbS: I believe that the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good.

Goldberg: Really?

MbS: Hitler didn’t do what the supreme leader is trying to do. Hitler tried to conquer Europe. This is bad.

Goldberg: Yes, very bad.

MbS: But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East. In the 1920s and 1930s, no one saw Hitler as a danger. Only a few people. Until it happened. We don’t want to see what happened in Europe happen in the Middle East. We want to stop this through political moves, economic moves, intelligence moves. We want to avoid war.

Goldberg: Is the problem in your mind religious?

MbS: As I told you, the Shiites are living normally in Saudi Arabia. We have no problem with the Shiites. We have a problem with the ideology of the Iranian regime. Our problem is, we don’t think they have the right to interfere with our affairs.

Goldberg: I’m curious about Donald Trump and Barack Obama on this issue. It seems you think Donald Trump has a better understanding of this issue than Barack Obama.

MbS: Both of them understand it. I believe that President Obama had different tactics. President Obama believed that if he gave Iran opportunities to open up, it would change. But with a regime based on this ideology, it will not open up soon. Sixty percent of the Iranian economy is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard. The economic benefits of the Iran nuclear deal are not going to the people. They took $150 billion after the deal—can you please name one housing project they built with this money? One park? One industrial zone? Can you name for me the highway that they built? I advise them—please show us something that you’re building a highway with $150 billion. For Saudi Arabia, there is a 0.1 percent chance that this deal would work to change the country. For President Obama it was 50 percent. But even if there’s a 50 percent chance that it would work, we can’t risk it. The other 50 percent is war. We have to go to a scenario where there is no war.

We are pushing back on these Iranian moves. We’ve done this in Africa, Asia, in Malaysia, in Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon. We believe that after we push back, the problems will move inside Iran. We don’t know if the regime will collapse or not—it’s not the target, but if it collapses, great, it’s their problem. We have a war scenario in the Middle East right now. This is very dangerous for the world. We cannot take the risk here. We have to take serious painful decisions now to avoid painful decisions later.

Goldberg: Speaking of painful decisions, are you making the situation in Yemen worse though military actions that are causing humanitarian catastrophes? There’s a lot of justified criticism of your bombing campaigns.

MbS: First of all, we have to go back to real evidence, real data. Yemen started to  collapse not in 2015 [when the Saudis intervened], but in 2014—based on UN reports, not based on our reports. So it’s collapsing for one year before the campaign started. We had a coup d’état in 2015 against a legitimate government in Yemen. And from the other side al-Qaeda tried to use this move for its own sake and to promote its own ideas. We fought to get rid of extremists in Syria and Iraq and then they started to create a haven in Yemen. It would be much harder to get rid of extremists in Yemen than Iraq or Syria. Our campaign is focused on helping the legitimate government and bringing stability. Saudi Arabia is trying to help the people of Yemen. The biggest donor to Yemen is Saudi Arabia. The people who are manipulating this aid in the 10 percent of Yemen not controlled by the government is the Houthis.

What I want to say here, to make it simple, is that sometimes in the Middle East you don’t have good decisions and bad decisions. Sometimes you have bad decisions and worse decisions. Sometimes we have to choose the bad option. We don’t want to come here, as Saudi Arabia, and be asked these questions. We want to be asked about the economy, our partnerships, investment in America and Saudi Arabia. We don’t want to spend our lives arguing about Yemen. This is not something about choice here. This is about security and life for us.

Goldberg: Do you believe in women’s equality?

MbS: I support Saudi Arabia, and half of Saudi Arabia is women. So I support women.

Goldberg: But equality? Equalizing society?

MbS: In our religion there is no difference between men and women. There are duties to men and duties to women. There are different forms of equality. In the Saudi government women are paid exactly like men. We have regulations like this that are going into the private sector. We don’t want divided treatment for different people.

Goldberg: But what about the guardianship laws? That’s something you want to change for good? I think everyone is impressed that you’re letting women drive, but for many Americans the main issues are the real structural impediments to women’s equality.

MbS: Before 1979 there were societal guardianship customs, but no guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia. It doesn’t go back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. In the 1960s women didn’t travel with male guardians. But it happens now, and we want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture.

Goldberg: You’re going to get rid of these laws?

MbS: There are a lot of conservative families in Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of families divided inside. Some families like to have authority over their members, and some women don’t want the control of the men. There are families where this is okay. There are families that are open and giving women and daughters what they want. So if I say yes to this question, that means I’m creating problems for the families that don’t want to give freedom for their daughters. Saudis don’t want to lose their identity but we want to be part of the global culture. We want to merge our culture with global identity.

Goldberg: This is a values question. You come from a country that’s very different than ours—yours is an absolute monarchy, a place where people don’t have the right to vote, you have corporal punishment and capital punishment carried out in ways that a lot of Americans don’t like—

MbS: We don’t share values. But I also believe that different states in the United States don’t share values. There are different values between California and Texas. So how come you want us to share your values 100 percent when you are not sharing values? Of course there is a foundation of values that all humans share. But there are differences, state-to-state, country-to-country.

Goldberg: But absolute monarchy?

MbS: Absolute monarchy is not a threat to any country. You say “absolute monarchy” like it’s a threat. If it were not for absolute monarchy, you wouldn’t have the United States. The absolute monarch in France helped the creation of the United States by giving it support. Absolute monarchy is not an enemy of the United States. It’s an ally for a very long time.

Goldberg: That’s very clever, but it avoids the subject.

MbS: Okay, each country, each regime, it has to do what the people think is workable. Saudi Arabia is a network of thousands of absolute monarchies, and then has a large absolute monarchy. We have tribal monarchies, town monarchies. Moving against this structure would create huge problems in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi fabric is much more complicated than you think. And actually our king doesn’t have absolute power. His power is based in law. If he is making a royal decree, he can’t say, “I’m King Salman and I’m doing this.” If you read decrees, you first see the list of laws that allow the king to take this decision. By the way, the queen of the United Kingdom, she has absolute power with any law. But she doesn’t practice it. So it’s complicated.

Goldberg: Could you see yourself moving toward a system in which people vote for their representatives? When you start to let people choose who represents them, that’s change.

MbS: What I can do is encourage the power of law. We would like to encourage freedom of speech as much as we can, so long as we don’t give opportunity to extremism. We can improve women’s rights, improve the economy. There is tension here, but we should do it.

One American visitor told me a really interesting thing. He said that Americans don’t recognize the difference between the two things—there is the end, and there is the means. The end here is development, rights, and freedom. The way to get to it, and this is the American view, is democracy, but the way to get to it in Saudi Arabia is our more complex system.

Goldberg: Let’s talk about the broader Middle East. Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?

MbS: I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.

Goldberg: You have no religious-based objection to the existence of Israel?

MbS: We have religious concerns about the fate of the holy mosque in Jerusalem and about the rights of the Palestinian people. This is what we have. We don’t have any objection against any other people.

Goldberg: Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a place that has produced a lot of anti-Semitic propaganda. Do you think you have a problem with anti-Semitism in your country?

MbS: Our country doesn’t have a problem with Jews. Our Prophet Muhammad married a Jewish woman. Not just a friend—he married her. Our prophet, his neighbors were Jewish. You will find a lot of Jews in Saudi Arabia coming from America, coming from Europe. There are no problems between Christian and Muslims and Jews. We have problems like you would find anywhere in the world, among some people. But the normal sort of problems.

Goldberg: Do you think Iran is bringing you and Israel together? Without Iran, could you imagine a situation in which you had other interests in common with Israel?

MbS: Israel is a big economy compared to their size and it’s a growing economy, and of course there are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and countries like Egypt and Jordan.

Goldberg: I’m curious about your youth. This is a complicated job for a young man.

MbS: I believe humans learn to the last days of their life. Anyone who claims he knows everything doesn’t know anything. What we are trying to do is to learn fast, to understand fast, to be surrounded by smart people. I don’t believe my youth is a problem. I believe the best creations in the world came from young people. Apple is a good example. Apple was created by Steve Jobs, who was in his early 20s when he started inventing. Social media, Facebook, created by a guy who is still young. I believe that my generation can add a lot of things.

Goldberg: One thing Steve Jobs had was freedom. He lived in a country where you could do anything. I don’t think anyone would describe Saudi Arabia as a place where you can do anything from a human rights perspective, from the perspective of freedom.

MbS: In Saudi Arabia you can do whatever you want to do in a business, in what kind of work and what kind of project you want to develop. Also, there is a different standard of freedom of speech. In Saudi Arabia we have just three lines—anyone can write whatever they want to write, speak about whatever they want to speak about, but they shouldn’t reach these three lines. This is not based on the interest of the government, but on the interest of the people. Line one is Islam. You cannot defame Islam. Line two—in America, you can attack a person and his company or a minister and his ministry. In Saudi Arabia it’s okay to attack a ministry or a company, but the culture of the Saudis, they don’t like to attack a person, and they like to leave the personal issue out of it. This is part of the Saudi culture.

The third line is national security. We are in an area not surrounded by Mexico, Canada, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We have ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas and Hezbollah and the Iranian regime, and even pirates. We have pirates that hijack ships. So anything that touches the national security, we cannot risk in Saudi Arabia. We don’t want to see things that happen in Iraq happening in Saudi Arabia. But other than that, people have the freedom to do whatever they want to do. For example, we didn’t block Twitter. Or access to social media. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat. Name it, it’s open for all Saudis. We have the highest percentage of people around the world using social media. In Iran they block social media and in other countries they block social media. Saudis have free access to whatever media around the world.

Goldberg: I’m not so sure that Twitter is good for civilization, but that’s for a future conversation. Thank you very much.