Article published on Arab News on Wednesday May 24th, 2017.
Yes, Mr. Trump, Saudi Arabia is the heart of the Muslim world. We are the proud servitors of the Two Holy Mosques who welcome all pilgrims — Sunni and Shiite, Ismailis and Ibadhis, Alawites and Druze, Africans and Asians, Americans and Europeans, Persians and Arabs — everyone who proclaims that there is no god but Allah (God), and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is his Prophet.
Yes, Mr. Trump, in his speech, before you spoke, King Salman declared that our aim is to stamp out extremism and the terrorists who practice it. Later in the day, you joined him in inaugurating the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.
Yes, Mr. Trump, you did not lecture us, and we accept your partnership.
Yes, Mr. Trump, our common battle is not between civilizations, but it is a battle for civilization. Like a tree whose roots are buried deep in humanity’s history, our one civilization grows into a trunk which, with each culture, grows a branch that shoots out green leaves and buds that turn into fruit and flower, and when it withers and before it dries, another branch comes out and develops its leaves, buds, fruit and flower; and so on, each new branch grows on top of the one before it; where, today, all of humanity is contributing to the present branch for the benefit of all.
Yes, Mr. Trump, we drive out our heretics from our mosques, our communities, our holy land, and out of this earth. And we respect you for your frankness. Our record is before you; we have driven out Al-Qaeda and have subdued and will equally eliminate what I call Fahish, which means obscene, in Arabic. They are not worthy of being called Islamic or a state.
Yes, Mr. Trump, we Muslims carry this burden gladly and have shed the blood of our sons in this just battle.
We ask you, Mr. Trump, to drive the Islamophobes from your places of worship, out of your communities, out of your land, out of this earth.
They and our heretics feed off each other and try to drive the rest of us into conflict.
Yes, Mr. Trump, we are principled and realistic. Our principles derive from divine revelation which tells us: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable among you with Allah (God) is he/she who is pious. Verily, Allah (God) is all-knowing, all aware.”
Our realism derives from our harsh environment, where survival depended on recognizing a real oasis from a mirage.
Yes, Mr. Trump, we are proud of our Vision 2030 and look upon it as the launching pad of our people into the future. You correctly noted the youth in our society, and as a septuagenarian, I am equally thrilled to witness how they have taken on this challenge.
Yes, Mr. Trump, your call for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is the principal target of Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative, launched by the late King Abdullah, 15 years ago and forcefully promoted by King Salman. It offers Israel an end to hostilities not only with the Arab world, but also full diplomatic, commercial and normal relations with all Muslim countries. Alas, Israel has not even acknowledged it. I hope that you have convinced them to come to terms with the untenable and immoral occupation of Palestine and its people. I believe that you can.
Yes, Mr. Trump, the leaders of Iran are the instigators of bloodshed and unrest in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. They boast that they have deployed hundreds of thousands of their soldiers in Arab countries. They boast that they have recruited sectarian militias from many countries to help the butcher of Damascus to slaughter his people. They brazenly boast that they have had an election and that this qualifies them to be democratic. But they cannot hide the fact that they have murdered thousands of their citizens and incarcerate thousands of their people, Kurds, Arabs, Azerbaijanis and Persians, because they want their freedom. Let us not forget that Hitler came to power in a democratic system. As King Salman and you have stated, the people of Iran are the victims of this clique that has turned Iran into a pariah state, condemned, internationally, as a terrorist state. One day, the people of Iran will return to the fold of the Muslim world and, as they historically did, will contribute to the welfare of humanity.
Yes, Mr. Trump, your action in punishing the perpetrator of chemical attacks on innocent civilians has been long overdue. Alas, the suffering of the Syrian people will not end until the ultimate terrorist in Syria receives his due reckoning. Whatever Russia and Iran do to prop up this murderous regime, the people of Syria will, one day, prevail. I hope that will be soon.
Yes, Mr. Trump, your candor is more eloquent than the words of those before you.
And yes, Mr. Trump, you and those you met with in Riyadh are the leaders of your people. All your people look to you all for the answers, and for the action that will bring us all out of the rut of where we are. Actions speak louder than words. You have set the standard. I say to you: “Ahlan wa sahlan,” meaning: “You have come among your folk, and may you tread an easy path.”
King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies
P.O. Box: 51049
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org