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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.

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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.

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