During a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he didn’t think U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest immigration policies were Islamophobic.
As odd as it may sound, it’s not exactly shocking to hear that Saudi Arabia, the most ultraconservative Islamic country in the world, doesn’t think Trump’s travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries is a Muslim ban.
First, Saudi Arabia is not among the countries — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq — that have been blacklisted.
Second, Saudi Arabia’s biggest regional adversary, Iran, is blacklisted.
And third, Trump and Saudi Arabia reportedly share a lot of business interests.
“Prince Mohammed Bin Salman discussed with President Trump the issue of banning some citizens from six countries from entering the United States of America and that His Excellency is closely monitoring this matter from the beginning,” a senior adviser to the bin Salman said in a statement on the meeting with Trump.
“Saudi Arabia does not believe that this measure is targeting Muslim countries or the religion of Islam. This measure is a sovereign decision aimed at preventing terrorists from entering the United States of America.”
The statement is highly inaccurate.
First, Trump may have banned people on the basis of the country of origin — and not religion — in his executive order but all the countries he has blacklisted are (not-so-coincidentally) predominantly Muslim. Second, not one of the perpetrators of the major U.S. terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam in the past 15 years have come from the countries on that list.
Oddly, though, despite the fact 15 out of 19 hijackers who attacked New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack in the episode in history of the U.S., were Saudis, Saudi Arabia is not on Trump’s list of banned countries.
The only possible explanation that comes to mind: business and strategic interests.
Trump reportedly registered eight new companies during his presidential campaign that “appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia received multi-million dollar technology to wage its war in neighboring Yemen, despite allegations of human rights abuses. Also, Trump’s anti-Iran stance tremendously benefits Riyadh.
As if the sheer ignorance of the glaring Islamophobia of Trump’s travel ban wasn’t absurd enough, the Saudi monarch also said this:
“…Trump has an unprecedented and serious intention to work with the Muslim World and to achieve its interests and that Prince Mohammed considers his Excellency as a true friend of Muslims who will serve the Muslim World in an unimaginable manner.”
Seriously? A man who, just last March, said, “Islam hates us,” who falsely claimed some Jersey City Muslims celebrated 9/11 terror attacks, who shamelessly resurrected a hoax story about Muslims being executed with bullets “dipped in pig’s blood,” who has appointed various rabid Islamophobes in his cabinet, is suddenly a “true friend” to Muslims?
Bin Salman really needs to do his research.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque