Saudi prince: Saudi Arabia would never support Egypt’s Salafis

The gulf state would never support the Salafis in Egypt, a prominent half-brother of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said on Sunday.

“If they are receiving money from Saudi Arabia, it would be from Saudi Salafis, not the government,” said Prince Talal bin Abdel Aziz, father of billionaire al-Waleed bin Talal, and the chairman of the Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND).

At a meeting of the Arab Council for Childhood and Development in Cairo on Sunday, he added that “Saudi Arabia itself suffers from the Salafis, who now annoy the whole world.”

“I support moderate Salafism, which calls for reform not extremism,” he added. “Islamists constitute an important segment of Arab society.”

“Things in Tunisia are going better than in Egypt,” he said, attributing Egypt’s lagging progress to the country’s 40 percent poverty rate, which he blamed on the Mubarak regime.

“Mubarak was a corrupt leader,” he added.

He called for supporting the Egyptian armed forces.

Abdel Aziz also said he does not understand why the Gulf states are not helping Egypt financially.

Cairo has received offers of aid totaling well over US$10 billion from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but those aid packages have not yet been delivered to Egypt.

Concerning whether the Arab Spring would reach Saudi Arabia, Abdel Aziz said the Saudis love their king.

“He made many reforms that they did not even think of,” he said. “But if change comes from the king’s grandchildren, I welcome it.”

When asked about ousted Tunisian President Ben Ali, he said he opposed the decision to grant him refuge in Saudi Arabia, but “I don’t think they would extradite him,” he said.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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