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Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 11:58 GMT
Saudis hit back over terror claims
Ministry of Information in Riyadh
Saudis want to counter international media

Two of the most senior figures in Saudi Arabia's ruling family have spoken out to defend the kingdom against what they see as unfair attacks on its reputation.

Crown Prince Abdullah said Saudi Arabia was being deliberately targeted by those who hate Islam.
Crown Prince Abdullah
Prince Abdullah's comments will strike a chord with the Saudis

He spoke of a Western media campaign to smear not just Saudi Arabia, but the whole of Islam.

The campaign, he said, was orchestrated by "certain known quarters", presumably a reference to Israel and the Jewish lobby, widely held in the Arab world to control the American media.

Crown Prince Abdullah emphasised that Islam repudiated terrorism, saying it is a tolerant and a temperate faith, that has no room for extremism.

Resentment

The remarks by Crown Prince Abdullah will strike a deep chord with Saudis.

Talk to almost any Saudi and you will hear dismay, anger, resentment and, above all, deep hurt, because of the way the kingdom has been portrayed since the 11 September attacks last year.

Businessmen will tell you of the difficulties they have in getting US visas; parents will explain how they have withdrawn their children from American universities for reasons of safety.

A shopkeeper watches an Al-Jazeera broadcast
Al-Jazeera, popular among the Arabs, is to set up an English language channel
The Saudis have been stung by news stories like that about the Pentagon briefing paper, which described the kingdom as the kernel of evil, and active at every level of the terror chain.

It was this last allegation which was addressed by another senior royal, Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh, when he denied that Saudi donations to Islamic charities were being funnelled to terrorist groups.

"If some individuals turn charitable works into evil practices, we can't be responsible for that," he said.

Media blitz

Another symptom of the Saudi belief that they are unfairly accused in the international media is the prominence given here to reports that the Al-Jazeera network is to set up an English-language channel to compete with the BBC and CNN.

Newspapers here also report that a Saudi businessman, Sheikh Saleh Kamel, is to spend $100m on a media blitz in the English language to counter what is described as anti-Arab publicity in the West.

See also:

02 Nov 02 | Country profiles
01 Nov 02 | Middle East
29 Oct 02 | Business
08 Oct 02 | Middle East
18 Sep 02 | Middle East
11 Oct 02 | Americas
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