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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Saudi Arabia slams Western media
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (L) meets King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh
Western states are seeking to keep good relations with Riyadh
Frank Gardner

Saudi Arabia has strongly attacked the Western media for criticising its position on terrorism.

In a speech published on Thursday, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abd Ulaziz - who effectively runs the country - called it a smear campaign inspired by hatred of Islam.


But most Saudis find it hard to accept that hostile opinions voiced in the Western media are not directed by Western governments

Several US senators, as well as the US media, have accused Saudi Arabia of not doing enough in the war against terror - a charge it vehemently denies.

"The vicious western media attack against the Kingdom is only because of the ancient spite against Islam," the Saudi crown prince was quoted as saying.

He said that his government would not compromise on the issue of defending its religion or the nation - strong words from a strong leader and ones which were dutifully reprinted by the government controlled-press.

Accusations

The speech follows repeated accusations in the Western media that Saudi Arabia is partly to blame for supporting extremist Islamic groups outside the country.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries to maintain ties with Afghanistan's Taleban rulers.

Some US senators have also criticised Saudi Arabia for not doing more to support the US led war on terrorism, but that charge has been denied in public by both the Saudi and US governments.

Taleban soldier in Afghanistan
Saudi Arabia is often accused of supporting extremist Islamic groups

Last Sunday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said both Egypt and Saudi Arabia had responded to every request the US had made of them.

But most Saudis find it hard to accept that hostile opinions voiced in the Western media are not directed by Western governments.

Since they have never known a free press in their own country, many assume that Western media criticism in some way reflects official government policy.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Childs
"The ruling al-Saud family is deeply and nervously preoccupied with concerns about its own grip on power"
See also:

14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Kuwait disowns Bin Laden aide
09 Oct 01 | Middle East
Bin Laden stirs up Arab world
24 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saudi mufti bans killing non-Muslims
18 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saudi minister warns against militants
14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saudi man denies funding al-Qaeda
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