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Islamic State claimed Wednesday’s attack on a non-Muslim cemetery in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah during a World War One remembrance ceremony involving French and other embassies. The group provided no evidence for the claim.
Wednesday’s attack occurred two weeks after a Saudi man wounded a security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah with what has been described as a “sharp tool” and after recent Islamist militant attacks in France and Austria.

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Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is committed to confronting extremism, and rejects and condemns all terrorist acts.

He said actual terror attacks in the kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter and a key U.S. ally, had “fallen to near zero” following a restructuring of the interior ministry and reforming of the security sector that began in mid-2017.

Prince Mohammed became heir to the throne following a palace coup in 2017 that ousted the then-crown prince.

The prince also said the kingdom would continue to combat corruption after the state recovered 247 billion riyals ($65.86 billion) in settlements in addition to assets worth tens of billions of riyals in the past three years. [L1N2HY2L6]

In January 2019 Saudi Arabia ended a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in which many members of the kingdom’s economic and political elite were detained.

Critics saw the crackdown as a power grab by the crown prince, who has moved to sideline any rivals to his eventual succession to the throne. Prince Mohammed has defended the campaign as “shock therapy” as he tries to overhaul the economy.

($1 = 3.7504 riyals)

(Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Alaa Swilam, writing by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alexandra Hudson)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey took offense at a U.S. statement that said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would promote religious freedom during an upcoming visit to Istanbul and called Wednesday on Washington to focus on racism and hate crimes in the United States instead.

The State Department said in a statement Tuesday that Pompeo would travel to Istanbul to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Greek Orthodox Christians. The top U.S. diplomat plans to discuss religious issues in Turkey and to promote “our strong stance on religious freedom around the world,” the statement read.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry rebuked the statement “as extremely inappropriate,” insisting that the country protects the rights of citizens of various faiths to freely practice their religions.

“It would be more advisable for the United States to look in the mirror first and to show the necessary sensitivity to human rights violations such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes in its own country,” the Turkish ministry said in a statement.

“Our reaction on this matter was conveyed to the U.S. side, and it was suggested that (Washington) focus on increasing cooperation between our countries on regional and global issues,” the Foreign Ministry said.

In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan converted Istanbul’s landmark Haghia Sophia into a mosque, ignoring calls for the former cathedral to be kept as a museum in recognition of the city’s multicultural past. The move led to accusations that the Turkish leader was trying to erase Orthodox Christians’ cultural heritage.

The structure, a United Nations world heritage site, served as one of Christendom’s most important cathedrals before being turned into a mosque with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and then into a museum 86 years ago.

Erdogan later also announced a decision to transform the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, another Byzantine-era church in Istanbul, into a mosque as well.

Turkey is also under pressure to reopen a Greek Orthodox theological school that was shut down in 1971.

Pompeo was not scheduled to meet with Turkish officials during a tour that will also take him to France, Georgia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia during Nov. 13–23.