Me In The Middle
Abdullah - original image NBC
Abdullah - original image NBC

Leaders fly to Saudi to pay respects to Abdullah. Should they?

A Big Think

Topic:  International
Mood:  disappointed

The Guardian Newspaper has run an obituary on King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia and have very clearly pointed out that this was not some great world leader but a man who presided over an absolute monarchy that oppresses the people, crushes human rights and allows a religion to dictate it's laws.

Following his burial in an unmarked grave, in line with tradition, world leaders including the British Prime Minister are flooding to Riyahd to pay their respects, on our behalf.

David Cameron is not going as a private person, but as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, so as the official representative of the people of the UK.

But do we want our leaders to be running around giving OUR respects to a man and a regime that many find abhorrent?

The Guardian article goes into great detail about Abdulla's reign, from the years as acting monarch when his brother, King Fahd had a stroke, to taking the thrown in 2005, and I suggest you read the article. But to mention a few things (Source, Human Rights Watch and others):

Under the discriminatory Saudi guardianship system, girls and women are forbidden from travelling, conducting official business, or undergoing certain medical procedures without permission from their male guardians.

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Torture is used frequently against any detainees, including children. Lashings are commonplace.

Executions are used for everything from drug offences to sorcery.

In 2012 he arrested leaders for peaceful protests against human rights offences.

Saudi does not tolerate public worship by people of any other religion than Islam. This is enforced by the religious police.

Abdullah has increased access to education for women, which is to be welcomed, but other more liberal reforms he considered were quickly removed in the wake of the Arab spring.

Saudi has a cruel system of law and justice, and Abdullah has achieved very little to change that and failed in almost all of his international aims.

And yet, David Cameron, Hollande of France, Joe Biden of the US and many others are off to Saudi, to pay their respects. Obama will be cutting short a visit to India and rushing over to meet the new King Salman, a far more conservative minded man than Abdullah, who has promised to maintain the same policies. There is little doubt that he will continue to abuse terror laws to subjugate his own people.

I am uncomfortable with this. I know and understand that we must have some sort of relationship with all countries around the world, if for no other reason than to have some inkling as to what they are up to, and global trade is global trade - you are either in or you are out.

But, when the actions of a man and his dynastic rule is something so counter to our sensibilities, does our Prime Minister even have the right to go and pay respects on OUR behalf?

 

 

#Abdullah
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