Saudi Ambassador to the US Prince Turki Al-Faisal addressed relations between the Muslim world and the West in remarks at American University in Washington yesterday.
In particular, Prince Turki highlighted the importance of intercultural dialogue, and addressed popular misconceptions about Islam and about Saudi Arabia.
“There has been misperception compounded by confusion. There have been myths that have become conventional wisdom. And there has been a distortion of the issues, made more complicated by emotion,” Prince Turki said. “Today, I would like to help correct that.”
He commented that the Saudi-US friendship has endured for 70 years, and that the Kingdom relies on that relationship as it addresses today’s challenges.
“Saudis, like Americans, are rooted in faith and family. We are a peaceful people who want the same as you. And, yes, we have problems, many of them,” he said. “But to solve those problems, we need our friends – including our friends here in the US – to work with us to face these challenges; because we all gain when doubt is replaced by discussion, castigation by cooperation.”
Regarding misperceptions of Islam, Prince Turki clarified two key points. First, he stressed that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Those who use Islam to justify violence and hatred are perverting the faith and do not represent the vast majority of Muslims, he said. Second, he noted that there are those in the West, including the United States, who denigrate and despise Islam. Such bigotry should be opposed and its promotion prevented, he said.
Addressing steps Saudi Arabia has taken to promote understanding, Prince Turki highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts to reform its education system and promote tolerance throughout the Muslim world.
“We in Saudi Arabia are taking steps to change where required for the betterment of the Muslim world, as well as the global community, and I believe we are headed in the right direction,” he said.
Transcript of Prince Turki's remarks