The Suspicious Assassination Of King Faisal, Arab Education Reformist
The third king of Saudi Arabia, Faisal, who is the son of the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz, was assassinated on March 25, 1975. Even though he was a king who is known to speak little, he was considered capable of leading a country. One of his legacies was the attempt to reform the world of education in the country.
That day, 1975, King Faisal was attending a bilateral meeting with the Kuwaiti oil minister. When King Faisal was welcoming a delegation from Kuwait into the king's office, Faisal bin Musaid, the nephew of King Faisal, suddenly entered the meeting room.
Faisal bin Musaid waited on one side of the room. After holding the meeting, and seeing the whereabouts of Faisal bin Musaid, King Faisal also paid tribute to the young prince. King Faisal approached him and kissed his head and nose as a tradition of welcoming the Saud Family.
It happened so fast after that. Faisal bin Musaid put his hand in his pocket and took out a firearm and fired three times into King Faisal's head. Ahmed bin Abdul Wahab, the person who was accompanying King Faisal, wrestled with Faisal bin Musaid and removed his gun. Faisal bin Musaid was later arrested by the military.
Meanwhile, King Faisal was taken to the central hospital of Riyadh. At around 14.00 Riyadh time, the Riyadh Radio Station announced that King Faisal had died.
As a result of his actions, Prince Faisal bin Musaid was arrested. An investigation into this murder was launched. Within 16 weeks, the Saudi security authorities conducted an in-depth investigation and found no evidence of conspiracy in the murder.
Prince Faisal was once said to have had a mental illness by the royal family. However, a panel of medical experts, as reported by The New York Times, stated different things. They said Prince Faisal when he passed security guards before killing King Faisal was declared in a sane state.
The investigation extends to Prince Faisal's activities and traces his colleagues while he was studying in the United States, first at the University of Colorado and then at the University of California at Berkeley. In the investigation, it was found that Prince Faisal was once arrested on charges of selling LSD.
After returning to Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal was busy filling his time as an instructor at Riyadh University. At that time he was reportedly considered emotionally unstable, and was in psychiatric care in Beirut.
Several allegations were raised regarding the motive for the murder of King Faisal, from protesting against his ration money, due to love issues, to accusing Prince Faisal of being an Israeli intelligence agent, Mossad.
One alleged motive is that Prince Prince felt bad about being banned from travelling abroad. The rejection was regarding the case of Prince's arrest in the United States.
Another strong speculation is that Prince Faisal wants to avenge a religious fanatic who was killed nine years ago before the shooting of King Faisal, by police who broke up demonstrations against attempts to modernize Saudi Arabia.
The reform of Faisal king's education
Born on April 14, 1906, Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud had received the title of man of the year given by TIME magazine. He would later carry out reforms that included policies of pan-Islamism, anti-communism, and pro-Palestine.
In addition, King Faisal was also known as the person who modernised educational institutions in Saudi Arabia. Education was one of King Faisal's main focuses in developing the Arab country.
King Faisal looked upon education as the main way in forming a strong country. King Faisal made major changes regarding education in Saudi Arabia.
After ascending to the throne, King Faisal began to make policies to increase the budget for education costs, and provide scholarships to every Saudi Arabian who wants to study. In particular, for those who wish to study abroad, special scholarships are provided.
In addition, in the era of his rule, the categorisation of education was applied for the first time in Arabia. He began to focus on developing education according to these categories, namely primary, secondary, tertiary and special education.
Before the 1960s, education in Arabia stagnated. Education is said to be for everyone, but in practice, there is still gender ridiculous discrimination.
In Buraida, for example, the region which is known to be conservative still thinks that learning will encourage free behaviour for women and this is considered to destroy the foundation of the family.
King Faisal and his wife Iffat began campaigning for education for women in 1962. Through a special school he made called Dar al-Hanan, King Faisal and his wife Iffat made a prototype of a modern women's school.
In 1964, about 1 million Saudi rials were spent on the development of the Dar al-Hanan school.
"Dar al-Hanan educates the best prospective mothers through Islamic teaching based on modern methods," wrote a local newspaper at the time, still not ideal, but in 1962 Saudi Arabia this was a move in the right direction!
At the time of Faisal's assassination he had been pushing for the OPEC energy embargo on the US and its allies due to their involvement in the 73' Arab-Israeli War, which in turn caused a catastrophic energy crisis.
Just two years later, when King Faisal was succeeded by his far more conservative brother Khalid, who was opposed to Faisal in every way (Faisal was considered a reformer in Saudi society and had a hand in liberalising it in notable ways, see education above!)
The timeline makes me genuinely wonder if the US, or the CIA in particular had any involvement in his assassination, especially in the 1970s political climate. The enquiry suggests not, but who knows, the US needed him out of the way, his nephew would've been easily manipulated.
Whatever actually happened, it's safe to say that Saudi Arabia would have a different landscape if Faisal had lived.