Naz Shah MP has said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman deserves our support because of his attitude to women’s rights.
Writing in iNews the Labour Bradford MP said bin Salman is a reformist, echoing the sentiments of Downing St and the Foreign Office.
The 30 year old is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and in recent years has launched a devastating war on Yemen, imposed an economic siege on Qatar and cracked down on his internal rivals. He is in Britain for a three day state visit during which he will meet the prime minister and government officials as well as the royal family.
“His stay affects me first and foremost as a Brit: the Kingdom is one of our country’s key allies, not just in trade but in intelligence-sharing, which saves British lives,” Shah wrote.
“Unafraid of upsetting the old guard… the Crown Prince has taken steps towards transforming how Saudi society views women.
“First, the so-called ‘Religious Police’ … were reigned in. Only weeks later, women were given the right to drive. Soon after, the corrupt patronage networks (which many viewed as part of the essential structure of the Kingdom) that made it impossible for young people – especially young women – to build a career on merit were dismantled. And finally, ‘Guardianship’ – the medieval laws that enslave women to the whims of male relatives – were scaled back.”
Shah’s comments were in stark contrast to the Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry who castigated bin Salman in a piece for the Guardian, especially his war on Yemen.
She wrote that hundreds of Yemeni children have died from the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, thousands have succumbed to malnutrition, and an untold number of civilians have been killed by airstrikes on homes, streets, weddings and funerals.
“This has been the human price of the three-year civil war in Yemen, in which all parties have shown a callous disregard for life, but where the large majority of civilian deaths lies irrefutably at the door of Saudi Arabia.
“Yet today the architect of that Saudi intervention in Yemen – crown prince Mohammad bin Salman – will visit Britain, and will receive the red carpet treatment from the Tory government, as if he were Nelson Mandela. This is the man behind the rolling blockade of Yemen’s rebel-held ports, preventing the supply of essential food, medicine and fuel to Yemeni civilians, and – on all the available evidence – breaching international law by using starvation as a weapon of war.”