Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has condemned Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's efforts towards liberalising the country, calling them "sinful."
World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) first-ever event in the conservative kingdom, Greatest Royal Rumble was held in April 2018, in Jeddah. This has attracted the ire of the Yemen-based jihadist group said "disbelieving wrestlers exposed their privates" in front of a gathering of "young Muslim women and men."
The six hour-long WWE event was a huge hit in the kingdom as more than 60,000 people were in attendance at the King Abdullah Sports City on April 27. Wrestling superstars, including The Undertaker, John Cena, and Triple H performed, to rousing reception while Braun Strowman won the first-ever 50-man battle royal.
"(Foreign) disbelieving wrestlers exposed their privates and on most of them was the sign of the cross, in front of a mixed gathering of young Muslim men and women," AQAP said in a news bulletin that was picked by the SITE Intelligence Group, according to AFP.
WWE had faced criticism for not allowing female stars to perform in Jeddah but Triple H had defended the brand by saying that the event will help fuel the recent cultural shift in the kingdom.
Notably, women were allowed to be present at the stadium only if they were accompanied by their male partners.
"The country is in the middle of a shift in how it is dealing with that – the position is changing, and rights are changing, as is the way women are handled and treated in society. We think that's a great thing and we're excited to be at the forefront of that change," Triple H had told Independent.
MBS has opened the door wide for corruption, moral degradation: AQAP
The hosting of Greatest Royal Rumble was seen as one of the major steps towards liberalising Saudi Arabia. Prince MBS has been spearheading quite a few policy changes, which have also drawn the ire of AQAP.
"The new era of Bin Salman replaced mosques with movie theatres. [He] substituted books that belonged to the imams... with absurdities of the atheists and secularists from the east and the west and opened the door wide for corruption and moral degradation," AQAP said.
Notably, Saudi Arabia has reopened cinemas and the long-standing driving ban for women was also lifted. MBS has also openly criticised the religious establishments in the country while promoting a "moderate Islam" according to Independent.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Royal family recently released a video footage of MBS meeting Yemeni president Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi in Jeddah, effectively quelling rumours over the death of the Crown Prince that arose after an Iranian newspaper floated an assassination theory stating at least two bullets hit MBS during the April 21 clashes in Riyadh.