Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, talks to ‘UpFront’ about the war in Yemen, ISIL and Saudi involvement in Syria’s conflict
Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, speaks with ‘UpFront’:
- Says beheadings in Saudi Arabia are not like ISIL’s, are “not barbaric” and do not happen “without the full process of law behind them”
- Describes Hillary Clinton’s claim that extremism is linked to Saudi policies and funding as “dead wrong
- Argues that there is a "a high degree of support for the system of government in Saudi Arabia”
- Declines to defend Saudi ban on female drivers: “I think women should be allowed to drive”
(Washington DC – 24th March, 2016) – In a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera English’s current affairs show, ‘UpFront’, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations, says beheadings in the Kingdom are “not barbaric.”
“It is a method of implementing a judicial ruling that has taken place. The action or the methodology used is irrelevant,” Al-Mouallimi told “UpFront” host Mehdi Hasan, referring to ISIL’s process of beheadings, in contrast, as “arbitrary and barbaric”.
“In Saudi Arabia there are no beheadings without a full process of law behind them,” added Al-Mouallimi.
The Saudi ambassador to the United Nations rejected Hillary Clinton’s recent criticism of the Kingdom, that “much of the extremism in the world today is the direct result of policies and funding undertaken by the Saudi government”, saying he had the “highest respect” for the former U.S. Secretary of State but “if she had said this statement, then she would be dead wrong.“
Asked why Saudi Arabia supports an elected government in Syria but not at home, Al-Mouallimi argued that "just because there are elections in Syria doesn’t mean there have to be elections somewhere else”.
“I would like to claim that if you went to Saudi Arabia, and if you conducted a survey in Saudi Arabia, in any way, official, formal, otherwise, you will find a high degree of support for the system of government in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We will have elections at some point of time,” he continued. “We’ve started with municipal elections but elections is not the panacea for everything.”
Asked about why advocating atheism in Saudi Arabia is now considered to be a terrorist offence (for context, see Saudi decree) Ambassador Al-Mouallimi said “Somebody who says that and calls for it publicly is subversive and could possibly be a terrorist.”
“We are a unique country. […] We are a country that is homogenous in accepting Islam by the entire population,” he explained. “Any calls that challenge Islamic rule or Islamic ideology is considered subversive in Saudi Arabia and would be subversive and could lead to chaos.”
Al-Mouallimi chose not to defend the Saudi ban on women drivers. “I think women should be allowed to drive,” he said. “I think this is a matter for society to ultimately decide.”
“I think that Saudi society is ready for women to drive,” he added. “I think that is going to happen someday soon.”
The full interview will be available at www.aljazeera.com/upfront from Friday 25th March at 19.30GMT
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
- This UpFront interview with Abdallah Al-Mouallimi airs on Friday March 25th at 19:30GMT
- If using quotes please credit Al Jazeera English and ‘UpFront’ and please add this link to online copy www.aljazeera.com/upfront
- UpFront broadcasts on Fridays at 19.30GMT. Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront