World News

Blinken emphasizes human rights in meeting with Saudi prince

In a recent meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken highlighted the United States’ commitment to prioritizing human rights in its relations with Saudi Arabia.


President Biden has expressed his discomfort with the previous administration’s non-confrontational relationship with Saudi Arabia, a country whose domestic and foreign policy consists of deeply concerning violations of human rights. Secretary Blinken confirmed this shift in foreign policy goals with his emphasis on human rights during his meeting with Minister bin Salman, which was the first major conference between high-ranking US and Saudi officials during the Biden Presidency.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, has undertaken a government effort to modernise the country’s culture while retaining its identity as a Sunni Muslim state whose legal system adheres closely to Islamic Sharia Law. This plan, known as Vision 2030, has resulted in notable progress in the expansion of religious liberty in Saudi Arabia, but major concerns remain.

The Saudi education system is an area in which religious extremism has been particularly present, and Vision 2030 has included efforts to revamp the country’s educational curriculum to be more accepting to minority religious groups. For example, textbooks now contain information on Hindu sacred texts. However, these educational reforms seem to have intentionally omitted teaching on Christianity or Shia Islam, both of which face significant limitations on freedom to practice in the country. 


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