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It is the second visit of a group of leaders who support Israel and US President Donald Trump. In a meeting with Mohamed bin Salman, they addressed human rights, politics and religious freedom.
A group of nine US evangelicals, headed by Joel C. Rosenberg, visited on September 10 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They met with Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
The encounter was sponsored by both the Saudi and US governments and served to exchange views about the future of Saudi Arabia. The issues addressed included terrorism, religious freedom, human rights, the geopolitical situation in relation to Israel and Iran, and the peace process.
A COUNTRY WITH VERY LIMITED RIGHTS
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, with a government in the hands of a family that rigorously applies the Islamic Sharia law.
It is one of the countries where Christians are most persecuted, according to the annual Open Doors World Watch List report, in which it occupies the 15th position.
The Saudi population does not enjoy freedom of worship, freedom of conscience or freedom of the press.
In the last months, nevertheless, the country has made steps to show its willingness to offer more rights, in the context of modernisation plans that could also have effects on religious freedom, including an opening to a more moderate form of Islam.
The work of the heir Prince, nevertheless, has been notoriously questioned after the terrible case of the assassination of journalist Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey.
HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed @JoelCRosenberg, and his accompanying delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders to Jeddah #SaudiArabia. https://t.co/5RVS4PK7xz pic.twitter.com/2V07Q2q0QG
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) September 10, 2019
US EVANGELICAL DELEGATION SPEAKS OF “PROGRESS”
“While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of September 11 to visit the Kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the Kingdom must go, can go, and where we believe it is going”, the press release issued by the evangelical group said.
“In fact, our visit here on this profoundly important week is in defiance of those that aim to derail reform in the Kingdom through an embrace of hate and fear rather than courage and moderation”.
The US group spoke of an “increasing trust” that “has afforded us the opportunity to talk openly, if sometimes privately, about what we believe must change in the Kingdom even as we celebrate the Kingdom’s progress in so many other areas”.
Some of these areas would also include women’s rights.
“Frankly, we’re delighted at the scope of the developments even as we look with expectation for more change. We are also patient friends with realistic expectations that it will take time to reform what took years to create”, the group concluded.
SUPPORT TO “POSITIVE REFORMS”
Two US Senators joined the delegation. Joel C. Rosenberg said “Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important strategic allies in the war against Radical Islamist terrorism and in countering the rising Iranian threat. Yes, there are significant challenges in the US-Saudi relationship. But we urge more Senators to come here, see the sweeping and positive reforms that the Crown Prince is making, and ask him candid questions directly rather than sniping at him from Washington”.
Rosenberg, a dual US-Israeli citizen, had already taken part a similar visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2018, a trip that was criticised by a number of politicians in Washington D.C.