Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for UN plan to protect holy sites

Saudi official Faisal Al-Haqbani speaks at the UN in New York. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2019

Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for UN plan to protect holy sites

  • ‘Personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its support for the initiative of the high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Moratinos, to safeguard religious sites.

The Kingdom said that attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places is a terrorist act that requires to be addressed.

This support was reaffirmed during a speech by the Faisal Al-Haqbani, the special political and decolonization committee’s official from the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN, in a meeting of the UNAOC at the UN headquarters in New York.

Attacks on places of worship are terrorist acts that must be combatted, said Al-Haqbani, who thanked Moratinos and the UNAOC for holding the meeting.

Many ongoing conflicts broke out due to religious, linguistic or ethnic differences, Al-Haqbani added. 

He stressed that the increasing attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places are terrorist acts. These practices and acts that fuel terrorism and spread ideas of hatred and practices of injustice and civilizational clash must be confronted by all.

Saudi Arabia serves the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah and receives millions of worshippers, making it a leader in managing huge crowds in small areas, he said.

The initiative of Moratinos promotes love, peace and security, and confronts all those who violate holy sites, Al-Haqbani said, proposing the criminalization of attacks on places of worship.

He affirmed that the Kingdom supports the initiative of the high representative and is ready to provide all the support in this field.

He stressed that personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values, nor the destruction of social systems.


Saudi Arabia's envoy to UK: We need to do a better job of showing who we are

Updated 7 min 37 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's envoy to UK: We need to do a better job of showing who we are

  • The ambassador encouraged people to visit his country before forming an opinion of it
  • “There is plenty to see, and you will find a warm, generous and hospitable people there waiting to greet you,” he said

LONDON: Saudi Arabia needs “to do a better job” of “showing the world who we really are,” its ambassador to Britain said.

“In Saudi we do not always represent ourselves very well because we are a reticent people and our culture does not push us to talking about ourselves,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan told the Daily Telegraph. 

He made his comments in light of recent allegations that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in hacking the phone of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

“It is very easy for people to throw these unsubstantiated allegations against Saudi Arabia because they know that it is very difficult for Riyadh to defend itself when it does not have proper access to the details,” the ambassador said.

“We need to see the evidence before we make any response, because the evidence made public so far is circumstantial at best.”

Prince Khalid, who was appointed last year, encouraged people to visit his country before forming an opinion of it. 

“There are a lot of misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. We want people to come and see Saudi Arabia for themselves, and not rely on what they have read somewhere or heard somewhere to form their opinion of the country,” he said.

“There is plenty to see, and you will find a warm, generous and hospitable people there waiting to greet you.”

He said Riyadh does not seek conflict with Tehran but will not let “Iran’s meddling in the region” go unchecked.

“We do not seek conflict. We do not seek escalation. We have always been supporters of taking a firm stand against Iran. Our issue is not with the people of Iran, it is with the regime running the country,” he added.

“But we do not believe in appeasement. At no point in history has appeasement proved to be a successful strategy. You cannot give in to a country like Iran because they will see it as a sign of weakness.”

France, Germany and the UK, three of the signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), triggered a “dispute resolution mechanism” recently in response to Iran ramping up its nuclear program in violation of the deal.

Prince Khalid criticized the JCPOA because it does not address “all the other things that Iran” is doing in the region.

“Iran’s meddling in the region is as challenging as the nuclear programme. This is why we were concerned with the nuclear deal,” he said.