King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died the other week. Do I care? Not particularly. But it seems that the heads of states of 40 other countries did care. Because I guess, human rights and all that jazz, isn’t really as sexy as paying tribute to a ‘King’ against the backdrop of a sandy desert with Lawrence of Arabia music playing in the background.
Now, Saudi Arabia is not exactly… how should we say… the cradle of democracy. They don’t worry too much about courts and all. I’m sure the woman who was held down by three policemen and had her head chopped off in the streets had a fair trial – even as she protested her innocence.
And I’m sure the blogger who suggested people should have freedom of speech in the Kingdom, and was subsequently sentenced to a 1000 lashes, had plenty of opportunity to argue his case.
And I’m sure the – oh so brave protesters – who cry and rant against Israeli human rights ‘abuses’ would have a wonderful time protesting in the streets of Riyadh. Actually – I truly would encourage them to do that!
But as Barrack Obama, leader of the free world said, America and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a ‘genuine and warm friendship’. Kind of funny, how the world’s strongest democracy has warm relationships with dictatorships but cold ones with actual democracies like Israel, who you know, have human rights and freedom and all that boring stuff. It was fortunate Obama was able to swing on by to Saudi Arabia at the last minute, when the reason he couldn’t go to Paris was because there hadn’t been enough time to prepare… And besides, we wouldn’t want his ‘warm and genuine friendship’ relationship with Saudi Arabia tested if he attended the rally against the terrorism Saudi Arabia has been espousing for decades…
Russian President Vladimir Putin, another great fighter for freedom, hailed Abdullah as a ‘wise politician.’ I actually agree with him! I mean who else can get all your enemies to fight each other on your behalf, while sitting on your blanket, and watching Big Brother!
And British Prime Minister David Cameron said the king would be remembered for ‘his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.’ Absolutely Dave! That’s why Abdullah received the honoured title of being a knight of the strictly Roman Catholic Order of the Golden Fleece. Of course… if you try to find a kosher deli in Riyadh, it might be a problem. Or a church. Or a Buddhist Temple. Or… actually anything, except Islam – since that’s the only religion allowed.
French President Francois Hollande said Abdullah’s vision of ‘a fair and durable peace in the Middle East remains truer than ever.’ Well said President Hollande! It’s completely fair – if you believe in barbarism, lack of freedom, and terrorism.
Even Israeli President Reuven Rivlin praised Abdullah as an ‘exemplary leader’. Oy…exemplary might not be the first word I’d use.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, currently in the tenth year of his four year term, declared three days of mourning, describing the late monarch as a ‘sage.’ Now, that is an example of wonderful time management by Abbas. I mean to be able to fit in three days of mourning, when you’ve already got about two hundred days of rage scheduled, a Fatah Open Day when you can bring your kids and their suicide vests, a Book Club day where you get to rewrite historical books to suit your own story, and a Know Your Rocks day, which is a great day of fun and activities for kids where they get to learn all different kind of rock throwing techniques. But Abbas did recognise him as a ‘sage’ and if it’s one thing two-bit, despotic, illegitimate dictators know – it’s how to recognise each other’s attributes.
But luckily, in times of tragedy, humour is never far. For instance, Amnesty International head, Salil Shetty, said that ‘The Saudi regime seems insensitive to human rights and human dignity…” Um… yeah… they do kinda ‘seem’ insensitive, don’t they? What with women not being able to drive, vote, leave their homes and all… But Amnesty better quickly switch their focus back to Israel – the violator of all human rights – who don’t seem insensitive – but are clearly guilty.
So as this great ‘reformer’ is laid to rest in the oil soaked sands of this desert kingdom, built by the blood and sweat of… foreigners, I say to the world to mourn away. Praise his accolades, and write poetic tributes for him. Lament his passing, and honour his eleven hundred self-professed titles. Cry your tears and beat your chest, but personally, I’ll be sleeping quite well tonight.