A prominent Saudi cleric on Wednesday endorsed Valentine’s Day as a “positive social event.”
The comment from Ahmad Qassim Al Ghamdi, former chief of the Makkah religious police, comes as 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman pursues his ‘Vision 2030’ reform drive that has already seen the kingdom lifting ban on women drivers and cinema halls.
Such comments from the Saudi clerical establishment would be inconceivable around two years ago, when the religious police wielded unbridled powers and were notorious for enforcing sex segregation, according to news agency AFP.
Prince Mohammad, who has vowed to return the country to “moderate Islam”, has further cut back the political role of “hardline” clerics in a historic reordering of the Saudi state.
Florists openly sold red roses and Valentine’s Day memorabilia in cities such as Jeddah on Wednesday without any trouble from the religious police.