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Give Saudi Arabia a chance, French president tells critics


France’s President Emmanuel Macron took on critics of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, saying it was too easy to criticize the young leader’s haste to reform and urged detractors to give him time, APA reports quoting Reuters.

 

Prince Mohammed, who was ending a three-day tour to France on Tuesday, has won Western plaudits for seeking to reduce Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil, tackle chronic corruption and transform the deeply conservative, mainly Sunni Muslim kingdom.

 

“I hear legitimate questions from civil society, journalists about human rights and various sensitive issues concerning your country, (but) I’m also looking at what’s going on in the region. We have here a young leader who is going to be in the highest functions in a country where 70 percent of the population is under 30,” Macron said alongside the 32-year-old prince.

 

“We can have the choice to stick to our traditional positions and we can decide that the first acts of modernization of his society are cosmetic. If we do that then we are leaving Prince Mohammed to face those in his area that think the opposite and decide to go backwards and keep to a political Islam or terrorism,” he said.

 

Under the reforms closely associated with the crown prince, social restrictions have been loosened, such as bans on cinemas and women driving.

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