Monday, March 31, 2008

Saudi Prince: Extremism Is Tool of Destruction

Monday 31 March 2008 (23 Rabi` al-Awwal 1429)  
Extremism Is Tool of Destruction: Salman
Ali Hawash, Arab News
MAKKAH, 31 March 2008 — Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah has awarded an honorary doctorate degree in arts to Riyadh Governor Prince Salman, who is also the chairman of the King Abdul Aziz Museum, in appreciation for his contributions to knowledge and support for scholars.
The degree was conferred on the prince by Umm Al-Qura President Dr. Adnan Wazzan during the opening of a seminar on the life and achievements of King Abdul Aziz.
At the event Prince Salman announced the museum's plan to open its first Makkah branch, which will be called the Center for Makkah History. He gave a detailed presentation on the life and achievements of King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia.
The governor also launched an encyclopedia project on Haj and the two holy mosques, which is being supported by the museum, the Haj Research Institute, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, the Haj Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry.
Prince Salman emphasized King Abdul Aziz's efforts to stabilize the Arabian Peninsula, saying that he brought together warring tribes and regional powers to build a modern state based on the Qur'an and Sunnah, and not on Arab nationalism.
Prince Salman described religious extremists as "the main enemies of the Saudi state," saying that they have become tools of destruction and terrorism. He also said the Islamic faith has always urged its followers to be moderate.
He said King Abdul Aziz was a religious man, who epitomized Islamic and humanitarian values. "He organized annual meetings of the family and described the basic principles of the Saudi state and asked them to treat people nicely, take care of the poor and needy, and protect human rights," the prince said.
"When we were children, the king used to follow up matters related to our prayers and studies, and we used to perform the compulsory prayers with him. Those of us who did not pray on time were locked in a special room and my aunt Princess Noura used to intercede for us."
Prince Salman also pointed out that the generosity with which King Abdul Aziz dealt with those who opposed him as well as those who fought with him during his unification drive. "Some of these opponents were given high positions later," he added.
He said justice was the hallmark of the king's personality. "One day an old woman from Makkah came to his palace and complained about a matter relating to inheritance. She said there was nobody to defend her case. The king then told the woman that he would take up her case at the Jeddah court," the prince said.
King Abdul Aziz also told a contractor building his palace not to ask his employees to work more than four hours during the day in Ramadan and that they would be paid their full salary. "At the time of an economic crisis during World War II, the king set up camps, kitchens, bakeries and charities all over the Kingdom to meet food requirements of ordinary people.
Prince Salman said his father had given utmost importance to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. "He gave them top priority and allocated more money and time for their affairs. He also helped pilgrims to perform Haj and Umrah in a secure atmosphere." He said.
King Abdul Aziz promoted public participation in national affairs by setting up the Shoura Council and other elected bodies in Makkah. He also established the first official newspaper, Umm Al-Qura, in 1343 AH (1924), which is based in Makkah.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former ambassador to the United States; Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism; Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Salman, assistant minister for petroleum affairs at the Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals; Prince Faisal ibn Salman, chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group; and other princes and top ranking officials also attended the event.

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