Blogs Coffee House

Why is Westminster Abbey honouring the king of a country where Christianity is banned?

23 January 2015

4:02 PM

23 January 2015

4:02 PM

Private Eye will have a field day when it comes to the tributes being paid to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – it’ll be like beheading fish in a barrel (for adultery). Among the tributes paid to the people’s medieval theocrat was one by David Cameron, who said:

‘I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud.

‘He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.

‘I sincerely hope that the long and deep ties between our two Kingdoms will continue and that we can continue to work together to strengthen peace and prosperity in the world.”

‘PS We’re having a special deal on Typhoons at the moment – 6 for 5. D.C.’

Ok, he didn’t say that last bit.

Then there was Angela Merkel, who said King Abdullah’s policies ‘brought him and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia respect and recognition. With wisdom, foresight and great personal dedication, he strove for a cautious modernization of his country and for dialogue between the Islamic world and the West.’ Considering women still aren’t allowed to drive, I think cautious is a bit of an understatement.


Likewise with the IMG’s Christine Lagarde, who said Saudi King Abdullah was a strong advocate of women ‘in a very discreet way’:

Indeed – very discreet! As for Tony Blair, who said that the king was a ‘staunch advocate of inter faith relations’, when they read that out in the office did all they burst out laughing like bad guys in 1980s action films? I believe in showing respect to the dead but do world leaders have to openly grovel to a country that exports Islamism around the world, whose ideology has poisoned countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, and which has funded Islamist murderers in Syria and Iraq. Abdullah’s kingdom is currently half-way through flogging a man to death for blogging and holds public beheadings for such crimes as witchcraft and homosexuality. So let’s not fall over ourselves here. The nicest thing that can be said about the Saudi royals is that the alternative would almost certainly be even more ghastly (an alternative created by the Saudis themselves, of course). Most craven of all is the decision by Westminster Abbey to fly a flag at half-mast, a church honouring the leader of a country where conversion to Christianity is a capital offence. It’s appropriate for the Foreign Office in Whitehall to mark the late king’s passing, but for a church to do so, when Saudi treats Christians so badly, is utterly pathetic. If the Saudis despise us for such craven behaviour, they are right to.

Of all the world leaders, the only one who comes out of this well is Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who said:

‘I wish a peaceful rest for the late King, patience for his family and I wish success for the people and the government of Saudi Arabia.’

An appropriate and dignified response to the death of a king.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Jackthesmilingblack

    How long before the flag of Islam is flying over Buckingham Palace?
    You think I’m joking, but I’m not.

  • manoj

    arabs- public piety, private debauchery !

  • fenlandfox

    Spot on ,we are all demeaned by this sucking up to this theocratic tyranny.

  • John

    It seems Obama will skip attending Holocaust memorial Day and instead fly to offer his condolences.

  • Roger Hudson

    The cornerstone of faith “Britain needs Middle east oil” is totally bogus, we have had indigenous oil and even before that we could have made oil and rubber from coal which we still have masses of.
    Have you seen the VW Beetle (actually KdF wagen) running on gas from wood, just what we need.
    The House of Saud are an evil gang, i hope they have to go back to exporting racing camels for a living.

    • John

      They’re the world’s foremost mafiosos.

  • Trojan

    Dave gets it from the Chipping Norton Mosque. All those beheadings and stonings, and sentences for sorcery carried out by the Saudis has nothing to do with Islam which is a religion of peace, as he repeatedly says. But just as he called for the ISIS beheaders to be brought to justice, so he will be calling for the Saudi Kings to be brought to justice.

  • Nicholas_Keen

    “Deeply saddened” about the ruler of a country where the owner of a liberal website set up to discuss the role of religion in modern Saudi Arabia is sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail. Shame.

  • gcowboy

    David Cameron, “deeply saddened”? Who wrote that politically correct speech for him?

  • Patrick Roy

    Oh here’s another bit of news in case you’ve not read it – The Great Wall of Saud to Keep ISIS Out, complementing the ragged fence they’ve put up on the Yemen border.

    A big big LOL.

  • pobinr

    ‘Why is Westminster Abbey honouring the king of a country where Christianity is banned?’
    Oil, money, arms deals
    Next question ?

  • Patrick Roy

    He was nothing but slum lord sitting on a lake of oil. Totally unaccountable for the failure to diversify the economy, mass unemployment, the horrendous influence of Wahabbism and the incarnation of the IS death cult. Good riddance.

  • Bob-B

    The idea seems to be that Saudi Arabia is a bit like the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945 – a deeply disgusting regime which it’s necessary to have as an ally. It would be good to see a proper argument for this position.

  • hello?

    don’t know why everyone’s so upset about no women drivers

  • WimsThePhoenix

    At least women could drive cars when Saddam was in charge in Iraq.

  • WimsThePhoenix

    “Why is Westminster Abbey honouring the king of a country where Christianity is banned?”

    Because like all institutions of state, it has been infiltrated by atheistic Marxists, who want to destroy Western bourgeois democracy, and Islam is their “strange” bedfellow.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Money, money, money … It’s the rich man’s world.

  • Michael Thompson

    A stitch in time saves nine, a glitch in no time rends nineteen

  • Akram

    For God’s sake, Christianity isn’t banned. And the honoring of King Abdullah is out of respect.

    • Jim Station

      Sorry Akram, you are TOTALLY wrong. In Saudi Arabia for a start (and many other Islamic countries besides) churches are banned, bibles are confiscated at the airport customs, any ministers or priests who are trying to enter the country are arrested. The death penalty exists for apostasy. Two days ago (Friday) the Archbishop of Canterbury was highlighting Christians who had been arrested for holding a private prayer service in their home. Its long overdue for the world, including the Islamic one to acknowledge the double standards, and the fact that mutual respect between Muslims and non-Muslims cannot develop with treatment from the Islamic world like this to non-Muslims.

      • Akram

        Chrsitianity isn’t banned like I said, people can practice it but will not be treated well. I never said they will be allowed to bring Bibles into the country and all that but they are allowed to be Christian. Not the best place to be if you are Christian but you can be. You still have to pay Jizya tax and churches are banned but the people aren’t. But your point about mutual respect, I totally agree with!

    • Patrick Roy

      Uh, respect for what?

      • Akram

        Respect of a person who died. Be it whether you call him a tyrant or a great man. When a monarchy in this country dies, the flags are lowered whether some people like it or not, so that what happened but due to the death of a foreign ruler.

  • Jody Taylor

    Why? Money.

  • sebastian2

    PS – I should’ve added that KSA gave asylum to tolerant and peaceful Idi Amin. Same ruling dynasty then. Same wahabbist creed then. And we fly our Union Flag (which it’s forbidden to display in Saudi, by the way, because of the crosses on it) at half-mast????

  • Chris Hobson

    Ever since TE Lawrence support the wahabi & salafi elements of arab tribes against the ottomans we have had too cosy a relationship with them. Hopefully Shale & solar will see this reversed.

  • sebastian2

    There’s something not quite right about all this. The Sauds are probably the largest sponsor ever of whabbist islam, and through their version of dawa have financed mosque building in the UK and provisioned it with the sort of “religious” ideological texts that cause us – well, certain anxieties. A huge printing complex in Medina churns out millions of pamphlets and other literature annually, for worldwide distribution. For years and for no obvious reason, preachers of this sort of mumbo-jumbo have been given a blank cheque to propagate their odious ideas in Britain. Londonistan.

    Saudi Arabia permits no churches, temples, or synagogues. Christmas is discouraged; Valentines’ Day banned; there is no Easter; no Hindu or Buddhist celebrations; schoolchildren are routinely fed the most pernicious of ideas about others (as we saw glimpses of in the Trojan Horse schools) and Israel is inked out on imported Middle Eastern maps. The mosques and madrassas teach hatred of Jews. Women are forbidden to drive or to travel without a male relative’s consent.. All those in Kingdom are required to carry an ID, called an Iqama, which notes their religion (mohammedan or not). KSA is one of the few countries where an exit visa is required. Their human rights record is highly questionable and, since they subscribe to the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, they do not recognise freedom of conscience. Apostates are executed – in public.

    They buy weapons from us and others – mainly for political reasons though the Saudi sponsors of these weapons’ contracts receive truly vast sums – a sort of commission – in return. They sell us oil because they have to. Without the revenue they’d sink back to the desert for they produce nothing. We owe them no favours because of oil.

    To commemmorate the Saudi “King’s” death in a centre of Christian worship, is very very odd indeed. Inexplicable in ordinary terms. The wahabbists – of which he was one – detest Christianity. So what’s going on?

    We may well ask.

    • Jim Station

      This country is abandoning its Christian roots…in favour of reason solely.. i.e. atheism. A recipe for disaster as this will not be able to tackle the challenges posed by the wahabbist Islam.

  • Zionist lackey

    Even Realpolitik has its limits, and putting the Union flag at half mast in Whitehall has breached those limits. In many of what this Muslim state regards as crimes; their punishments are as bad as any of those dealt out by ISIS for the same kind of infractions. Any death deserves, if not compassion, then at least a hush. But the death of King Abdullah ill-deserves the plaudits that Western leaders including of our own, have chosen to lionise him with.

    This wretched monarchy has served the West’s interests because of its oil reserves, military purchasing power; and its ‘support’ of the West. As far as oil is concerned Saudi Arabia now faces competition from fracking; and has allowed the price of oil to be driven down in competition with this new source of oil production from the United States.

    Fracking has had a decisive impact on the Saudis as well as the rest of OPEC, and they are now engaged in a pricing war which they cannot win; because sooner or later other countries in the West will allow fracking to take place which will change the balance of power in the oil producing world away from OPEC countries.

    Fracking has reduced the price of oil. The Saudi’s see this as its greatest threat and so seeks to out compete with it on price, thus driving down the price of a barrel of oil. But such a development also has an impact on North Sea oil production; which will weaken the Scottish case for independence if it continues. The only way in the future the SNP can avoid this is to allow investigation into the possibility of fracking in Scotland to take place.

    But we in the UK do not only rely on the price of oil, but also military sales from the Saudis, which Saudi Arabia have gratified us with. We have sold multi-billion pounds of military equipment to the Saudi’s over the years. Such sales help keep our military manufacturing industries solvent and help keep thousands of jobs safe.

    As far as King Abdullah’s support for the West is concerned; he used the West to beef-up his military and make his country’s military a real force against other Islamic countries that wished Saudi Arabia ill: a military fortress in fact which was built by military sales from the West to protect the realm: the creation of this fortress help secure thousands of jobs in, particularly, our UK aero-space industry.

    But all along King Abdullah hedged his bets. His principality used his country’s wealth ultimately to one end – his own and his country’s survival: and if this meant edging his bets; this was what he did. For all the talk of Saudi allegiances to the West; the Saudis have financially supported Islamists (if not ISIS),but still nevertheless the enemies of the West.

    We cannot blame any nation from doing whatever it deems necessary to keep its nation in tack. But I do blame the West; and in particular the UK for its total appeasement of the vile practices that the Islamic state of Saudi Arabia has, on an industrial level, subjected its people to.

    I am ashamed of the almost supplicant way in which our nation has treated the death of King Abdullah. It is a truly a shameful spectacle. King Abdullah is no more worthy of such an honour by the West, than is the leader of ISIS.

  • abraham

    thats pray for people,not prey for people.

  • abraham

    maybe they don’t hate him….love your enemies and prey for those who persecute you….don’t try to politicise the church.these words are from jesus.

    • Patrick Roy


  • David

    It begins with O and ends in L.

    • ItwasBlairwotdunnit


      • anneallan

        That’s an offal remark.

  • FrankS2

    That Saudi “cautious modernisation” reminds of a man who claims he is making “discreet efforts” to stop beating his wife.

  • peter curtis

    Raif Badawi certaintly deserves to be floggged for the crime of blogging in favour of a democratic, compassionate and tolerant Islam. He should have known that western leaders would never support him and that the EU and the US government would never criticise one of the most backward, reactionary regimes in the world.

  • la catholic state

    Shame on them all….especially Westminster Abbey. They need to apologise to persecuted and maligned Christians in Saudi.

  • Andrew_S_Hatton

    Westminster Abbey is after all not uniquely the Church of England’s to do with as it wills but as Wikipedia explains “The abbey is a Royal Peculiar and between 1540 and 1556 had the status of a cathedral; the building is no longer an abbey
    nor cathedral however, having instead the status since 1560 of a “Royal
    Peculiar” – a church responsible directly to the Sovereign.”

    Ultimately – though the UK sovereign is broadly accepted by her subjects – since allegiance was given by the representatives of the people shortly after her accession – she continues to be self appointed, like Kings Abdullah & Salman. The Nation she Governs via her appointed head – currently David Cameron – depends upon oil and trade with the Saudi’s – we are now even, trying to flog them Justice services!

    It seems therefore just a matter of good business relationships for the government of the UK to demonstrate its regard for another national government despite it being even more autocratic and brutally violent to its own subjects and visitors, by flag symbolism and ‘sending’ the executive head of government and heir to the throne to do homage to the head of such a nation as its government changes consequential on death.

    It might be said that the UK government has a particularly special relationship with the Saudi government as it partly came into being as a result of past UK military endeavours and so perhaps even more understandable that, it (HMGov) should be involved in the ‘handing on’ process as a dead sovereign is replaced.

  • AverageGuyInTheStreet

    Whatever next, an annual British day of sadness commemorating the death of that great world leader and statesman Adolf Hitler?? Let’s hope come May that UKIP give the political elite a damn good kicking.

  • ukipforbritainwebsite

    The Church of England has disgraced itself by making Westminster Abbey fly the flag at half mast.

    • James

      Church of England is a puppet organisation for HRH and establishment,

  • Marcussmod

    Oil and weapon sales obviously trump human rights and democracy. There is also the fear of what would replace the present Saudi regime if it were to fall.