Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, is dead. US President Barack Obama hailed the monarch as ‘a candid leader and man of convictions’, while US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called him ‘a powerful voice for tolerance, moderation, and peace in the Islamic world’. British Prime Minister David Cameron was ‘deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised him for ‘a cautious modernization of his country’. The New York Times described the King as ‘a cautious reformer’, The Washington Post as ‘a wily king, and The Wall Street Journal as ‘a leader who promoted stability’. Well, really? Does the despotic ruler deserve this over-the-top show of affection and admiration from world leaders and the Western press?
While the world may sing songs of praise for the dictator for what he apparently did for Saudi Arabia and the Western world, we present to you a different picture altogether – examples of tyranny are aplenty…
Abdullah regime’s profound misogyny
International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has hailed him as ‘a strong advocate for women’. Here’re some examples of his virulent feminism:
Four of Abdullah’s daughters live under house arrest. In May 2014, Saudi royal princesses Sahar, 42, Jawaher, 38, Maha, 41, and Hala, 39 were found to be kept in 13-year isolation by their father, King Abdullah. They shared their horrible condition in an interview to RT: they were deprived of food for over 60 days and had very little access to water. Their crime? They spoke against the ill treatment of women in the Gulf kingdom, resisted its strict rules mandating male guardianship over women, and their mother failed to give the King a son.
‘We just want our God-given #rights & 4 all #women in this country to enjoy these rights’Sahar #FreeThe4 End #VAW #UN pic.twitter.com/iSPEc7JzBs
— Free The 4 Women (@Freethe4) January 21, 2015
In 1977, his granddaughter Princess Misha’al bint Fahd was blindfolded, made to kneel, and executed in a car park in Jeddah by the King for having the audacity to fall in love. Her lover was forced to watch her execution, and later was beheaded with a sword; it took five blows to sever his head. The documentary Death of a Princess told the story of this brutal act.
In January 2015 in holy Mecca, four Saudi police officers chopped off the head of Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, a woman from Burma ‘accused of killing her seven year old step daughter using a broom stick in her vagina and anus’. The video showed her begging for mercy as she was dragged off to the street to get beheaded. The case highlighted the crude brutality of King’s justice system.
Saudi Arabia’s draconian laws ban women from driving in the country. On October 26, 2013, 60 women took to the streets of Saudi Arabia driving cars and posting videos online of them singing to Bob Marley’s hit ‘No Woman No Cry’ with the words ‘No Woman No Drive’. Their website was blocked and Saudi Arabia’s top cleric retorted, ‘women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems’. Two Saudi Arabian women – Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Alamoudi, 33, a UAE-based journalist, flouted the bizarre ban in 2014, and were referred to a terror court in Riyadh.
“After years of false promises to end its absurd restrictions on women, Saudi authorities are still arresting them just for getting behind the wheel. The Saudi government’s degrading restrictions on women are what bring shame to the country, not the brave activists standing up for their rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights Watch.
Can’t stop reading these western media obituaries for the Saudi tyrant. One outdoes the other. And: https://t.co/mCHL7a4l70
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 23, 2015
What about funding terrorism, beheadings, flogging of journalists and women – I think Tony has a few blind spots! http://t.co/B4Uyokq1QH
— John Austin (@JohnEAustin) January 23, 2015
Freedom of speech & Human rights = Apostasy
In Saudi Arabia, freedom of speech is not a human right but a threat to Kings’ existence. Over the last few years, King Abdullah issued decrees cracking down on freedom of expression to strengthen the grip that the royal family and religious establishment hold on the country. He criminalized defaming the reputation of the state, insulting a member of the royal family or religious clerics. This prevented reporting on anything that contradicts Islamic law, or serves ‘foreign interests and undermines national security’.
Writer and activist Raif Badawi was arrested in 2012 for insulting Islam through electronic channels and brought to court on charges of apostasy. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013, and then resentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes, along with a fine of 1 Million Riyal, in 2014. Badawi, who created a liberal, secular website, Free Saudi Liberals, had suggested Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University had become a den for terrorists. He was publicly flogged on January 9, 2015.
King Abdullah’s rule saw regular public beheadings and floggings. In 2014 alone, Saudi Arabia is reported to have carried out 87 beheadings that highlights the kingdom’s harsh laws on dissent. Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International’s UK head of policy and government affairs, told The Guardian: “Amnesty has serious concerns about Saudi Arabia’s justice system, given its use of the death penalty, the prevalence of torture in detention, and its use of cruel and degrading punishment”.
Under Abdullah’s watch, authorities rounded up scores of human rights activists who dared to criticize the government. The peaceful protesters were subjected to unfair trials in terror court on vague charges such as ‘breaking allegiance with the ruler’. Waleed Abu al-Khair was sentenced to 15 years in prison for criticizing the government’s human rights record. Fadhil al-Manasif is serving a 14-year sentence for helping journalists cover 2011 protests by Saudi Shia citizens. Reformists Mohammed al-Qahtani and Abdullah al-Hamid are serving 10 and 11 year sentences on similar charges.
Human Rights Watch says: “Saudi Arabia has stepped up arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents, and forcibly dispersed peaceful demonstrations by citizens. Authorities continued to violate the rights of Saudi women and girls and foreign workers. Authorities subjected thousands of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. Courts convicted human rights defenders and others for peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms”.
Terror’s connections with terrorism
According to the diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in 2010, the US regards Saudi Arabia as the biggest source of Sunni terrorism funding in the world, and a crucial piggy-bank for Al-Qaida and other radical groups. King Abdullah knew the sources of this funding, but he did nothing to rein in his family members.
Saudi royal family has promoted the puritanical ideology which is practically the same ideology of Islamic extremists such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS. Saudi Arabia’s preaching of misogyny, intolerance, and extremism at home and abroad has resulted in the creation of an even greater extremism that threatens even the monarchy itself. The Saudis love public beheadings as their mortal enemy ISIS, who keeps beheading Western hostages.
Saudi Arabia sent Osama bin Laden and other young Saudis to fight in Afghanistan, creating a worldwide jihadist movement. As a devoted Wahhabi, Laden developed a very close relationship with the Saudi royal family (Read King Abdullah). The same family once paid the most famous terrorist in the world’s construction company billions of dollars to build mosques and palaces in Saudi Arabia, making him one of the richest men in the country. Those who helped the hijackers of four airliners used in suicide attacks on 9/11, included wealthy Saudi hardliners, high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by Saudi Arabia. By serving as the world’s largest producer and exporter of oil, Saudi Arabia made a lot of friends (In 2009, (below picture) US President Barack Obama bowed down to King Abdullah) who turned a blind eye to its support to terrorist activities.
“I offer my deepest condolences to Saudi Arabia and the family of King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz on this day of grief. Afghans will always remember King Abdullah as a great supporter of their jihad. He always supported the Afghan peace process,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reacted after King’s death. King Abdullah himself faced the threat of the Islamic State, who has pledged to overthrow the Al Saud family for supporting Obama’s anti-ISIS coalition.
Workers = slaves
Though Saudi Arabia outlawed slavery in 1962, the appalling treatment of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia is actually a form of modern slavery. Many Filipino and Hindu workers have suffered appalling physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their Saudi employers. There are numerous cases of foreign workers being publicly beheaded for murdering abusive employees. Rape, murder, apostasy, drug trafficking and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the Kings’ law. Worst, the Saudi government does not inform the foreign embassies and even the prisoners in advance of the execution dates. The official notices are sent after the execution.
Saudi Arabia is home to nine million migrant workers; however, the country does not have a standard contract for these workers. In 2013, Ethiopian migrant workers became the victims of physical assaults, some of them fatal, following a government crackdown on foreign workers. Hundreds of thousands of workers who sought to return home were kept in detention centers without adequate food or shelter; many reported abuses by prison authorities.
“Saudi authorities have spent months branding foreign workers as criminals in the media, and stirring up anti-migrant sentiment to justify the labor crackdown. Now the Saudi government needs to rein in Saudi citizens who are attacking foreign workers,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director for Human Rights Watch.
Heights of intolerance = Reforms
Any religion other than Islam is effectively banned in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslim places of worship are illegal. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the highest official of religious law, head of the Supreme Council of Ulema and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwa, in 2013 had declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region”. Christians must go to Mass in foreign embassies. The wearing of a cross is banned. The country in 2014 passed a law that imposes death penalty for anyone caught smuggling a bible into Saudi Arabia.
In October 2014, Saudi Arabia’s Special Criminal Court sentenced Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr—a popular Shi’ite cleric and outspoken political dissident—to death for ‘disobeying’ the king, waging violence against the state, inviting ‘foreign meddling’ in the kingdom, inciting vandalism and sectarian violence, and insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives.
Witchcraft is still an offense in Saudi Arabia. In 2007, Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim was beheaded in Riyadh after his conviction on charges of “practicing magic and sorcery as well as adultery and desecration of the Holy Quran”. In 2013, two Asian maids were sentenced to 1,000 lashings and 10 years in prison after their bosses claimed that they had suffered from their magic. In a country where public observance of any religion besides Islam is strictly forbidden, foreign domestic workers who bring unfamiliar traditional religious or folk customs from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Africa, or elsewhere can make especially vulnerable and easy targets.
In October 2007, during a state visit to the United Kingdom, King Abdullah was accused by protestors of being a murderer and a torturer. Concerns were raised in the UK about the treatment of women and homosexuals by the Saudi kingdom.
Strong leadership = Repression
King Abdullah thwarted pro-democratic and revolutionary movements in neighbouring nations by giving financial and military assistance to friendly regimes with revolutionaries at the gates. Saudi forces crushed an uprising that threatened Bahrain’s House of Khalifa.
During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, where the protesters demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in order to usher in democratic and socioeconomic reforms, and the US, the UK, France and Germany called for reform and an end to violence against peaceful protesters, King Abdullah slammed protesters as ‘infiltrators who sought to destabilize their country’. King Abdullah played a guiding role in Saudi Arabia’s support for Egypt’s government after the military intervened in 2013, and drove his country’s support for Syria’s rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.
When human rights and social justice advocates sent King Abdullah a petition seeking an elected parliament, term limits on princes holding government positions, and public access to the trials of accused terrorists, most of the signers were jailed briefly and the king granted none of their requests.
Open criticism of the King within the country is forbidden.
And the indulgence…
‘His Majesty’ was apparently a big fan of Viagra. In a CIA cable from 2008 published by Wikileaks, operatives at the American embassy in Riyadh wrote, “King Abdullah remains a heavy smoker, regularly receives hormone injections and uses Viagra excessively”. Another cable detailed the world of vices available to members of the Saudi royal family. “The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available — alcohol, drugs, sex — but strictly behind closed doors. This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants”.
Western rulers kissed is ass because much of their oil came from Saudi Arabia, and making him look bad meant risking the loss of their main oil supplier.
Nuke them !
one of the best kings saudi arabia has ever seen. I live in saudia arabia, and im sure most presidents have done worse but its never mentioned. he has changed saudi arabia so much in a period of 2 years only a resident of the country would be able to explain to you what kind of person he was. and Maximilian im pretty sure your american.
Best king, huh? Guess you have to say that since any form of decent is met with some archaic form of punishment like, oh I don’t know, public beheadings!You saying he is best king Saudi Arabia has ever seen is like saying Kim Jong Un is the best leader North Korea has ever seen. Just keep in mind my Arab brother, Brain washing and the propaganda machine are vital for despots to maintain control of the masses. You may think everything is okay, when in reality the box you live in is a facade cloaked by repression and tyrannical order.
There are some factual mistakes that detract from this article:
1. Princess Misha’al bint Fahd – the executed Princess was grand-daughter of the founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, not the recent King Abdullah’s daughter – she was his niece
2. Osama Bin Laden wasn’t close to the Saudi royal family and the construction business wasn’t his – Bin Laden’s father owned the construction company and had been close to the family’s founder, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud. The Bin Laden construction company had been the official builder for the Saudi royal family for decades – and it still is.
Osama bin Laden received a portion of the company, which he sold to his brothers for money to fund his terrorist activities. As for Osama bin Laden being close to the King, the saudis tried exiling him to Kenya, removed his citizenship and, after the Al Queda bombing of Riyadh, would have executed him if he was caught in Saudi Arabia.
3. Christian churches and jewish synagogues have been forbidden in Arabia since the 7th century when the caliph Umar declared that arabia was home only to Islam. Non-muslims were strictly forbidden, especially in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In the 20th century, due to the discovery oil, the saudi rulers had to modify this command. Now, foreign workers live in compounds where they can hold non-muslim prayer meetings – but they are not allowed to have visible non-muslim religious symbols (crucifix)on them in public. Saudi Arabia has a huge non-muslim foreign worker population – the Oil industry would stop without them. In fact, most of the country would grind to a halt without the foreign workers.
The Saudi rulers are just setting up rules so foreign workers don’t piss off the religious authorities and start a riot.
In Israel, it’s also illegal for other religions to prosyletize and convert the jews as well.
4. Lack of Democratic government or reforms – Like I mentioned above, the saudi political structure is based on the tribal bedouin one. It’s structure goes as follows – family, clan, tribe, tribal alliances and then nation. This is the way they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. It was oil wealth that brought this primitive (even for 3rd world countries) society into the 20th century. It was so barren and inhospitable that, in the 7th century, the huge islamic empires left arabia and set up their capitals elsewhere. Arabia was only valuable for the pilgrimage sites of Mecca and Medina – that’s it, otherwise none of the Caliphates cared about most of Arabia.
Truthfully, if we want to speed change in arabian society, we need to find and develop viable alternative energy sources. The Saudi Royal family has contracts with US oil companies that will pay them $trillions into the next century. Only by undercutting them and not buying their oil, can their power be weakened and political reform happen.
I lived in Saudi. Non of the above is true. It’s amazing how media belittles our minds and enslaves our characters. Shame on who wrote this article, it has no grounds of truth.
I lived in Dhahran from ’86-’96 as an ex-pat American. While I was just a kid at the time, sheltered from the main of the Saudi population, some of the things I saw and experienced there have come back to me in with the context of hindsight. Though broad generalization will include both inaccuracy and derrogation of some facts, I would be loath to say that this article does lacks “grounds [sic] of truth.”
As a first point, the few Saudi women that I interacted with were all very wary of how their ‘guardians’ would perceive our conversations, even to the extreme of rude abbreviation. In contrast, the Bedu I met were much freer and outspoken, seemingly much more connected with an older version of Islam which gave women more prominence in the household and daily life, including conversation with guests.
The contrast to city life in Arabia was stark: just walking the street in Khobar or Dammam or Hofuf, in the slums of Thuqbah, I remember seeing stuff I didn’t like or understand – the mutawas [upholders of religious propriety, or the ‘religious police’ as expats commonly called them] spray painting the exposed ankles of western women; an older man hitting a young woman in the head as she shifted her burqah to better cover her face [I don’t know if they were related]; a father striking his daughter at the park for kicking the football back to the boys – in the 10 years I lived there, I saw numerous examples of what most people would straight up call oppression in America, but in Saudi, as expatriots, we were warned off with the injunction that Muslim culture was different in both values and rights. While I accepted such at the time and valued the experience, I have come to see as indefensible the lack of freedom which Saudi women possess. They are not allowed to drive; to own property; to speak in their defense; to discipline their children unless allowed by their guardian; to speak in public; to travel between cities; to earn money [though I think this changed in the last decade].
Having seen the Saudi justice system in action [ie, witnessed several floggings and a behanding] I know how brutal the practices of a culture foreign to one’s own can seem, but I cannot find a logic which would justify the abrogation of freedom of movement and some of the basic tenets of motherhood and social norms accepted around the world as the standard for living within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The recent death of Princess Jawaher should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – her father [her guardian by Muslim law] seemingly willed her into exile, along with her sisters, for merely being outspoken and wanting the things that all people want – freedom to be.
Amid all the condolences sent by the heads of state of Jordan, the UAE, Dubai, et al, not one of them mentions her very questionable status over the previous 14 years! Yes, Lina, it is ‘amazing how media belittles our minds and enslaves our characters.’ The plight of the late King’s daughter’s hardly rated a blip on Western media’s radar and now one of them has died – and still nothing.
I remember watching the news broadcasts from Riyadh back in the day. They would start with banal and pompous British martial music and 10 minutes of “the King met with such-and-such head of state and received him at the palace, blah blah blah” along with footage of said meeting, red carpets, the triple kiss, royal guards at attention. I’d wager very little was said in the Saudi media about the Princess Jawaher’s death. I doubt the Saudi Gazette, the Arabian Sun, Al Yaum, Al Jazirah, Al Eqt rolled out more than a thin line of ink in her honor. How much can you find on the Internet about Mala, Hala, Sahar and Jawaher? At most it would be a result of the interviews and pleas to media from over a year ago, at which time a President I voted for was in their country meeting with their father, yet said nothing. Additionally, here is nothing in any media account Stateside that I can find which mentions them. Lupus non mordet lupum – the wolf does not bite the wolf. Verily.
In that vein – latius est impunitum relinqui facinus nocentis quam innocentem damnari – let the crime of the guilty go unpunished rather than condemn the innocent. It’s a canon of law from Abraham’s plea to God over Sodom and Gommorah [which saved Lot and his family], to Maimonides, Blackstone, and Benjamin Franklin. The prophet Mohammed is even quoted as giving a paraphrase of it, though not in the Q’uran. So are women in Saudi Arabia guilty of some terrible transgression, that they should be subjugated to a code which actually breaks with early Islamic law? Hardly. They want what everyone in the world wants. And if the head of state in a plutocratic monarchy can justify himself like a god and deny his own flesh and blood the right to be people, it passes to the rest of the men in his country to justify themselves so. To claim that as a religious right is heinous and debases what to me always seemed an quality religion [if I ever needed one]. Leges sine moribus vanae – laws without morals are vain. Especially religious laws.
Western media and governments may demure to what is termed “a private matter,” as regards the late King and his daughters, but the general issue his daughter’s decry was loudly shouting in my face every time I went into town with my friends to get a shwarma and the latest year old black market hair metal tapes – that the standard of equality by which the West tries to measure INDIVIDUALS, is what the modern Islamic man measures himself by, and only.
The West is flawed, I’m flawed [even if by mere extension], the media is a bunch of goons, and 500 ranting idiots will jump all over this comment for numerous reasons [Indeed, I am flawed] but the grip of oil companies and oil producing states is indeed dictating the way we live our lives by holding us over the proverbial barrel [which is full of oil, for those who need a hint] and telling us to mind our own business. If that means the world as a whole has to look the other way, then we are all guilty – so is it not better to let 7,250,120,570 people go free than to judge one king for his brutality?
Civilized world must join forces and take over all Islamic states, divide oil business and reserves among nations equally. Jail oil sheikhs, banish or restrict Islam practices. Strike once, strike hard. One war to end many.
Result: Oil prices down, less wars involving the Islam, women with equal rights in the east, dramatically reduced women and children’s early deaths in the east, reduced war/political/economic asylum seekers in the west, release of pretty young locked-up princesses (and we’ll be the heroes!)
As much as I hate the king, that second lay was still a murderer.