Walter's Madrid conference article is published

Walter's report from the recent interfaith conference in Madrid, "Saudi King's Perestroika Moment," was published today in The Jewish Week. Here is the full article. An excerpt follows:

No one articulated the spirit of Saudi perestroika better than the father- and-son team of Sheik Abdullah Bin Bayyah, vice president of the Jeddah-based International Union of Muslim Scholars and his thirty-something son, Cheikhna Bin Bayyah, who divides his time between business operations in Saudi Arabia and his duties as executive director of the Global Center for Renewal and Guidance in London.

The elder Bin Bayyah, who wore a long flowing robe and keffiyeh, remarked, “Without a doubt, there are a lot of influential people opposed to what the king is doing, but after participating in this historic event, I feel confident that there is no turning back.”

His son, who was clad in a stylish business suit, said he looks forward to the day when he will enjoy the same freedom of expression in Jeddah as he does in London. “What is happening today in Saudi society is a badly needed paradigm shift related to the age of globalization,” he said. “People like my father understand the need to open things up, so let them get on with the task. If they don’t get the job done, my generation is going to step forward and do it for them.”

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