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Saudi Crown Prince Calls for Moderation Amid Recent Violence - 2002-10-15

With acts of violence aimed at foreigners in three Muslim countries in recent weeks, Saudi Arabia's ruler has called for his people to avoid extremism.

Speaking at a university graduation ceremony, Crown Prince Abdullah called on Saudis to "cling to pious faith without excess." He called Islam a religion of "moderation and wisdom."

The prince spoke after attacks against Westerners in Indonesia, and in two countries that border Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait. There are indications that the Yemen and Kuwait attacks were linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network, put together by Osama bin-Laden.

At Cairo's Al Ahram Center, analyst Hala Mustafa, an expert on terrorism and extremism, said Saudi Arabia is eager to distance itself from the extremists, in part due to concern about its own stability and its relations with the west.

"The Saudi ruler rightly condemned immediately the act because they are very concerned about the issue, especially in the Gulf area. And I think after the harsh criticism Saudi Arabia was a target of, it is very expected that they want to prove they do not have any relations with this activists, the Islamists or extremists," he said.

Saudi Arabia faced heavy criticism from some people in the United States, following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Critics said the country offered shelter and financial support to Islamic militants. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were Saudis.

While Kuwaiti, Yemeni, and Indonesian authorities have acknowledged there could be al-Qaida influence in their countries, leaders of most other Muslim countries have not had anything to say.