Revenge not the answer to Islamophobia, says Pakistan minister

Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry during the interview with Arab News. (AN photo by Yazeed Alsamrani)
Updated 29 March 2019

Revenge not the answer to Islamophobia, says Pakistan minister

  • Deadly New Zealand mosque attacks were ‘unfortunate’
  • ‘Huge mistake’ linking Muslims with terrorism

RIYADH: Revenge is not the answer to Islamophobia, Pakistan’s information minister told Arab News in an interview.

Fawad Chaudhry was in Riyadh at the invitation of Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, and spoke about Islamophobia and terrorism weeks after an attack on two mosques killed 50 Muslims in New Zealand.

“What happened in New Zealand was obviously very unfortunate, and this Islamophobia that Europe is going through, what answer can we have for that? Should we think in terms of revenge? The answer is no,” he told Arab News. 

“The Muslim population in the world is 1.3 billion. If such a big population thinks of revenge, this means bloodshed for the whole world. So how do you answer to this phenomenon? The answer is through culture.”

He praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote its culture and combating Islamophobia through culture.

“Cultural integration is the best option, through which you can make people understand you,” the minister said. 

“Unfortunately the continuous use of the term Islamic terrorism has created this phenomenon of Islamophobia. Terrorism could not be related to any religion, but Europe did (make) a huge mistake by affiliating terrorism with Muslims.”

Cultural exchange

The minister said he and Prince Badr discussed the importance of cultural exchange. He added that Pakistan was ready to help the Kingdom following the Ministry of Culture’s bid to further help the arts. The initiatives include prizes, scholarship programs and a fund.

“Saudi Arabia needs academies. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share the same family values, the same culture as well as modern values and the same religious ethos. We can help Saudi Arabia in a big way, if Saudi Arabia would like to make an academy of performing arts in Riyadh, we will be more than happy to do that. Saudi Arabia’s leadership thinking doesn’t only affect Saudi Arabia, it affects the whole of the Muslim ummah (community). Such progressive thinking and modernization is important for the ummah,” Chaudhry said.

He said Pakistani society was getting back on track after years of domestic instability. 

The Taliban had targeted artists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province but there were efforts to revive their culture and promote it, he added.

Russia’s Putin lauds good relations with Saudi Arabia, condemns Aramco attacks

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 October 2019

Russia’s Putin lauds good relations with Saudi Arabia, condemns Aramco attacks

  • Moscow could play a key role in easing regional tensions given its good ties with Gulf states and Iran
  • The Russian president made his only trip to Riyadh way back in 2007

RIYADH: Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia and condemned the recent attacks on state-owned Aramco oil facilities.
Putin said such attacks only strengthened cooperation between oil producers inside and outside OPEC, an alliance known as OPEC+, and that Russia would work with its partners to reduce attempts to destabilize markets.
As President Donald Trump reinstated US sanctions, increasing pressure on Iran’s economy, there have been a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia and in Gulf waters that Washington and close allies have blamed on Iran, which denies responsibility.
Putin told Arab broadcasters in an interview aired on Sunday ahead of his visit to the Kingdom in more than a decade, that he has “very good relations” with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Russian president is due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Monday and then heads to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Putin said that there has been a 38 percent growth in economic cooperation between the Kingdom and Russia.
Russia’s Direct Investment Fund and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have created a base of $10 billion, with $2 billion in investments, he added.
Russian petrochemicals company Sibur Holding is looking to build a petrochemical complex worth more than $1 billion in investments, Putin also said.
Syrian Conflict
On Syria, where Russia and Iran have been key allies of President Bashar Assad in an 8-1/2-year civil war, the Russian president said they would not have been able to reach a positive outcome without Saudi cooperation.
“I would like to emphasize the positive role Saudi Arabia has played in resolving the Syrian crisis … without Saudi Arabia’s contribution toward a Syrian settlement, it would have been impossible to achieve a positive trend,” he said, thanking King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman for their “constructive approach.”
He said Moscow supports the Assad regime in Syria, not because they have no blame in the situation but to prevent terrorist organizations from infiltrating the war-torn country.
“We are working with Turkey and Iran to resolve the Syrian conflict, but without Saudi it would not be possible to come to a good solution,” he said.
A congress convened by Russia last year tasked the United Nations envoy for Syria with forming a committee to draft a new constitution, after many rounds of talks to end the war failed.
UN officials say forming a constitutional committee is key to political reforms and new elections meant to unify Syria and end a war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced about half of the pre-war 22 million population.
Turkey launched an assault last week against Kurdish forces in border areas of northern Syria, saying it seeks to set up a “safe zone” to resettle Syrian refugees but raising international alarm over the possibility of Daesh militants escaping from prisons.
Iran Deal
Asked if Moscow supported new a return to negotiations with Iran to limit its missile program as Trump has called for enforcing the nuclear deal first, Putin said the two issues should be dealt with separately.
“Most likely it (the missiles) can and should be discussed ... The missile program is one thing and the nuclear program is another thing,” he said. “Of course, this is necessary, but there is no need to merge one with the other...”
The Russian president said OPEC+ was an initiative introduced by the crown prince to increase their cooperation in oil sector, and that he was the one who suggested to expand military collaboration between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia was not just a regional energy player but also a global one, and “we care about our cooperation,” Putin said.
The Russian leader added that anything that threatens energy trade stability must be stopped, and “we should work together” to stop it.
Aramco Attacks
Putin also condemned the Sept. 14 attacks on Aramco facilities, noting “such actions do not bring any positive results to anybody, including perpetrators,” as they do not have a strong effect on the market.
“We condemn any such actions, end of story. This is the official position … regardless of who stood behind the incident,” said Putin.
He insisted Russia’s intelligence community does not know who perpetrated the Aramco attacks, but he also said that his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, has denied Tehran’s complicity in the attacks. Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Riyadh and Washington blamed Tehran.
However, Putin said: “It is wrong to determine who is guilty before it is known reliably and clearly who is behind this act,” Putin said, adding that he had agreed to help investigate the attack.
“If someone may have wanted to deal a blow to the oil market, they failed. There were indeed some fluctuations in prices, but I do not think it was anything too serious, even though the initial response was quite strong.
“We need to respond to any attempt to destabilize the market. Russia will certainly continue working with Saudi Arabia and other partners and friends in the Arab world to counter any attempts to wreak havoc in the market,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
Putin believes Russia can play a positive role in resolving regional disagreements, because of Moscow’s positive relations with the Arab world, Iranians, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.