Prince Charles risked provoking a new political and religious storm yesterday when he said Muslims living in the UK should follow British values.
In a staunch defence of Britain's ‘Christian standpoint,' he denounced the radicalisation of young Britons by Islamic fanatics and said they should show more respect to ‘the values we hold dear'.
People who had ‘come here, were born here or go to school here' should ‘abide by our values,' he said. His comments were made as he started a six-day tour of the Middle East, seen as another stage in assuming more of the Queen's international duties.
Prince Charles wears traditional uniform in Saudi Arabia last year - he will now tell new Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud that he should stop the 1,000 lashes handed down as punishment to blogger Raif Badawi It is a clear response to critics who say he should not meddle in sensitive political matters. The Prince will also challenge Arab leaders head-on during the trip.
The Mail on Sunday can disclose that he is to tell new Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to his face that he should stop the 1,000 lashes handed down as punishment to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi for comments which the regime claimed were critical of Islam.
Prince Charles last night called for a halt to the persecution of Christians by Islamic State and other militant Islamic groups, telling them bluntly: ‘We were in the Middle East before you.'
And he killed off speculation that when he becomes King he will give up the Monarch's traditional ‘defender of the faith' role in favour of a multicultural ‘defender of faiths' title. His renewed ‘defender of the faith' pledge will be seen by some as a U-turn and a signal that the Monarch's role as the head of the Church of England is far from over.
The Prince's intervention comes hard on the heels of a new book which claims the Queen is worried that her heir plans to be an ‘activist king'. The Prince's comments on Islam and Christianity are broadcast in an interview with BBC Radio 2's The Sunday Hour this morning, suggesting he plans to be very active.
‘The radicalisation of people in Britain is a great worry, and the extent to which this is happening is alarming, particularly in a country like ours where we hold values dear,' he says. ‘You would think the people who have come here, or are born here, and go to school here, would abide by those values and outlooks.'
It was ‘frightening' that young British Muslims were radicalised by ‘crazy stuff on the internet'.
Charles will reinforce his tough stance on Islamic extremism by telling the new Saudi king to show clemency to Saudi blogger Badawi.
His sentence of 1,000 lashes and ten years in jail over his website which encouraged Saudis to criticise Islam and their rulers has caused international outrage.
Diplomatic sources say that Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud may pay more attention to Charles, a fellow royal, than a foreign political leader.
Prince Charles talks to the BBC about ‘alarming' radicalisation
The Prince's comments on Islam and Christianity are broadcast in an interview with BBC Radio 2's The Sunday Hour with Diane Louise Jordan this morning, suggesting he plans to be very active The Prince last night touched down in Jordan, where he will meet Jordanian King Abdullah II, before travelling on to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates THE WOUNDS HAVE YET TO HEAL FROM FIRST FLOGGING Blogger Raif Badawi, 31, was last year sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes for his website which encourages Saudis to debate politics and religion. His Free Saudi Liberals online forum – now closed – criticised Saudi Arabia's clerics and claimed that a university in the country had become ‘a den for terrorists'.
In 2013, after Badawi's wife and children fled to Canada, he was cleared of apostasy, the rejection of Islam, which could have carried a death sentence. But he was found guilty of ‘insulting Islam' and ‘going beyond the realm of obedience'.
The father of three received the first 50 lashes on January 9, and he was expected to receive 50 more every week for the following 19 weeks.
Amnesty International say the second 50 lashes have been delayed. It was reported that the wounds had not healed, and his wife said that as a diabetic who suffered from hypertension he may be unable to physically withstand another flogging.
Protests were held outside Saudi embassies across the world, and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond raised it with Saudi ambassador Prince Mohammed Bin Nawwaf Bin Abdelaziz last month.
However, Amnesty has accused the UK of being ‘muzzled' by its commercial and strategic links with the kingdom and of failing to object strongly enough.
A video posted on YouTube shows Badawi receiving his lashes in a square outside a mosque in Jeddah, watched by a crowd of several hundred who shout Allahu Akbar (God is great) and clap and whistle after the flogging.
The Prince last night touched down in Jordan, where he will meet Jordanian King Abdullah II, before travelling on to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Charles also intends to use his Middle East tour to call for an end to attempts to drive Christians out of the region. IS terrorists slaughtered thousands of Yazidis and Christians in Northern Iraq, and Christians are also threatened in other Muslim countries.
If nothing was done, the time could soon come when ‘there are no Christians left in the Middle East… they are intimidated to a degree you can't believe,' the Prince said.
He rammed home his point in uncharacteristically plain terms: ‘The tragedy is even greater because Christians have been in the Middle East for 2,000 years, before Islam came in the 8th Century.'
Furthermore, the Prince went out of his way to quash claims that he does not want to be ‘Defender of the Faith' when he inherits the throne. He said his comment about being ‘defender of faiths' to embrace all religions – made 20 years ago – had been ‘misinterpreted'.
The Church of England's role was not to defend Anglicism to the exclusion of other religions, he said, but to protect the free practice of all faiths.
He would approach it from a ‘Christian standpoint' and be both ‘defender of the faith' and ‘defender of faiths.'
The former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries, said the Prince's comments were a ‘helpful clarification'. He said some had seen the Prince's earlier remarks as watering down the Church of England's historic role in an increasingly multi-faith country.
Lord Harries said the Prince may have been advised he could not easily change the traditional title, given to Monarchs since Henry VIII, because of the constitutional implications.
The Prince appeared to accept he could be ‘deeply immersed' in his own faith in the Church of England while being ‘protective of other faiths'.
Lord Harries said: ‘He is making the important point that they are not mutually exclusive.'
Prince Charles met with a group of Iraqi Christians who sought refuge in Jordan having fled from Iraq Prince Charles's trip to the Middle East and his radio interview come after a new book Charles: Heart Of A King by writer Catherine Mayer, claimed that the Queen is concerned her son will be an ‘activist' Monarch. Charles's principle private secretary William Nye was forced to write a public letter describing it ‘ill-informed speculation'. He said Charles was ‘inspired' by his mother's example and understood the ‘necessary and proper limitations' on the role of a constitutional Monarch.
Ms Mayer's biography claims Charles disagrees with the bans imposed in France and Belgium on Muslim women covering their faces with burkas and niqabs, seeing the move as ‘an infringement of human rights' which criminalises women rather than challenging the custom.
Additional reporting: Jonathan Petre
The rapier wit and wisdom of the ‘Meddling Monarch' Prince Charles's reputation for ‘meddling' stems from decades of making his views clear on political matters – at home and abroad.
The Prince bombards Ministers with his views on subjects ranging from the Human Rights Act (he is opposed) to complementary health care (very much in favour).
His ‘black spider memos', written in a scrawling hand, are dreaded across Whitehall.
Until now, his most incendiary interventions on the diplomatic stage have come in relation to China: Charles is a friend and supporter of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader who campaigns against Beijing's human rights abuses in his former homeland.
In 2006 The Mail on Sunday revealed that the Prince was unhappy with the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China, calling it ‘The Great Chinese Takeaway.'
He also described Chinese government officials in his personal journals as ‘appalling old waxworks' and attacked the ‘ridiculous rigmarole' and ‘awful Soviet-style display' of Chinese soldiers during the handover ceremony.
Then, in 1999, Charles caused alarm at the Foreign Office by boycotting a banquet at the Chinese embassy in London hosted by the then president Jiang Zemin: as a gesture of solidarity with the Dalai Lama, Charles chose instead to attend a private dinner at his home with Camilla Parker Bowles and close friends.
And last year, the Prince strongly criticised Vladimir Putin. Shortly after the Russian leader had seized Crimea, Charles told a woman who lost relatives in the Nazi Holocaust: ‘And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.'
Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch greeted the news of Charles' visit to the Middle East by calling his friendship with the Saudi royal family ‘repellent' – due to the Gulf state's human rights record – and calling on him to tackle the issue during his official visit which started yesterday.
My fears over intimidation of Christians, by HRH The Prince of Wales
There is a real worry that there could come a time when there are no Christians left in the Middle East because the numbers have gone so dramatically down.
With what has happened in Mosul in Iraq and other centres, there are very few Christians left because they were intimidated to a degree you can't believe.
Everything has been taken from them. Many of them are so fearful now of ever going back.
It is a most agonising situation, but we must remember that all around the world there is appalling persecution going on, not only of Christians but of Muslims and of other faiths and religions.
The radicalisation of people in Britain is a great worry, and the extent to which this is happening is alarming, particularly in a country like ours where we hold values dear.
You would think that the people who have come here, or are born here, and who go to school here, would abide by those values and outlooks.
But the frightening part is that people can be so radicalised, either through direct contact with somebody, or through the internet. There is an extraordinary amount of crazy stuff on the internet and clearly some people get particularly affected by it and join with others.
I can see some of this radicalisation is a search for adventure and excitement at a particular age.
So what I have been trying to do with the Prince's Trust and other groups is to find alternatives for adolescents and people at a young age – constructive paths to channel their enthusiasm, their energy, their sense of wanting to take risks.
I started something in 2007 called ‘Mosaic', which was designed to try to help young people in Muslim areas, particular in deprived areas in the UK, with mentoring to help build self-esteem and self-confidence.
I have been asking them recently to do more towards de-radicalisation, and there are some really interesting examples of how people can be deradicalised once they become radicalised because they find they are horrified by what it leads to.
Of course, how you prevent radicalisation in the first place is the great challenge. You cannot just sweep it under the carpet. But the most important thing is to remind people of the distortions that are made of great religions, and the original ideas of the founders of these religions.
Often you find their message is so distorted by their putative followers. That's the tragedy and, of course, traditional Islam does not permit this sort of thing.
Inevitably, I find it heartbreaking that these sort of things should happen, particularly when I know that there has never been more activity going on with interfaith dialogue and endless efforts made to bring everyone together.
And the tragedy is even greater because Christians have been in the Middle East for 2,000 years, before Islam came in the 8th Century.
But I think the secret is we have to work harder to build bridges, and we have to remember that Our Lord taught us to love our neighbour.
When I called myself Defender of Faith all those years ago I was trying to describe the inclusion of other people's faiths and their freedom to worship in this country. At the same time as being Defender of the Faith, you can also be protector of other faiths.
From that point of view, it was very interesting that 20 years or more after I mentioned this frequently misinterpreted phrase, the Queen, in her address to faith leaders around the time of the Jubilee, said that as far as the role of the Church of England was concerned, it is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions but to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country. She was conveying what I was trying to say.
(Source: Daily Mail)