Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has reportedly warned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over his reforms, saying that reinstating movie theaters and bringing WWE wrestlers to the country were sinful projects.
The Sunni terrorist group said that Mohammad bin Salman replaced mosques with cinemas and gave up on religious texts in a statement on its Madad news bulletin, cited by SITE Intelligence Group. The influence of atheist and secular views has paved the way for corruption and moral degradation in Saudi Araba, the group said in its statement.
AQAP was especially unhappy about the WWE Royal Rumble event, which took place in the Kingdom in April. It said the American wrestlers exposed their private parts and wore signs of the cross before the mixed crowd of Muslim men and women.
Other signs of degradation include daily concerts, movie screenings, and circus shows, the jihadists added.
Since becoming crown prince a year ago, bin Salman has introduced a range of reforms aimed at the democratization of the ultra-conservative Muslim state, including lifting a ban on female drivers, reintroducing concerts and cinemas, as well as allowing women to attend football games. However, the country’s course was called into question in late May after the arrest of over a dozen mostly female activists calling for the lifting of guardianship rules that require Saudi women to receive permission from a male relative before making important life decisions.
Bin Salman is also responsible for a massive “anti-corruption” crackdown last year, which saw over 200 Saudi princes, ministers, and officials arrested in a move that, analysts say, was actually an attempt to consolidate power and extort money from the wealthy.
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AQAP has gained momentum due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, in which Saudi Arabia and its allies became involved back in 2015. Riyadh has been fighting the Shia Houthi rebels with the aim of re-instating ousted President Mansour Hadi to power.
Since then, nearly 6,400 civilians have been killed and over 10,000 injured, the UN said in early May, adding that “the vast majority of these civilian casualties were as a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition.”
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After more than three years of fighting, Yemen is facing a massive humanitarian crisis. More than 22.2 million people in the country are in need of assistance, with 60 percent of the population lacking food and more than half left without basic medical services, according to the UN.