Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad has agreed to allow Christians to build churches in Saudi Arabia.
If this is accurate, it is a remarkable breakthrough. Muhammad said that no religions other than Islam should be permitted on the Arabian peninsula. There will be strong resistance from Islamic leaders to any suggestion Christians should be allowed to build churches in Saudi Arabia.
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has recently pushed through reforms allowing women to drive, and cinemas to be opened. The Saudis are the guardians of the holy sites. This new openness, and willingness to engage in more open trade, talk and travel with Israel, could signal hope for real reform in Islam, and a move away from Wahabist extremism.
Meeting with Prince Muhammad on March 20th, President Trump described the relationship between the US and Saudia Arabia as “.. probably the strongest it’s ever been.”
Crown Prince Mohammed, speaking in English, described the Kingdom as “the oldest ally of America in the Middle East”, with political, economic and security co-operation as deep foundations for the relationship.
“We know today the relation produced more than four million jobs directly and indirectly,” he said.
Trade and openness lead to peace. Let’s hope that other Islamic countries will follow Saudi Arabia’s lead.