Reaction to the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah demonstrates that the modern western world respects oil, above all else. That’s a view of many, angered by what is seen as global leaders pandering to an economically powerful, but morally questionable, nation.
On Friday, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, 90, died from pneumonia. World leaders have flocked to pay their respects in person, BBC News reports.
Particularly outspoken is columnist and former Conservative MP Louise Mensch. From her current home in New York, Mensch expressed her feelings towards her former leader, British Prime Minister David Cameron.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) January 23, 2015
It is so unacceptable to offer deep condolences for a man who flogged women, didn’t let them drive, saw guardian laws passed, & STARVES THEM — Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) January 23, 2015
King Abdullah is succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, 79. Prince Salman, himself reportedly in ill health with dementia, will rule the country where women are banned from driving, political bloggers are routinely flogged in public, being gay is punished by death, and public beheadings are a regular occurrence.
Saudi royalty are largely beholden to authoritarian Sunni clergy, which exerts broad influence in the country. Clergy salaries are paid by the kingdom, and they have been allowed to grow increasingly dictatorial.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, founder of the Liberal Saudi Network to promote online religious and political debate, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” Shortly before the beating, a rare desert snowfall inspired a religious scholar to decree that building snowmen was an insult to Islam. The practice of snowman building was therefore prohibited. Women are banned from driving because it is said to detrimentally affect their ovaries and ability to reproduce.
That said, reforms were introduced by King Abdullah, such as a co-educational university where men and women are permitted to study together. Public segregation of the sexes remains absolute, however, and last week pictures emerged of a woman being beheaded in the street.
One of the world’s top oil producers, Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the global economy can impact lives across the developed world. It’s claimed by economists that Saudi Arabia has directly helped the recent 60 per cent decline in world oil prices to eliminate competition.
Concern about King Abdullah’s death is not all about oil. Ramping tensions in the Middle East due to the rise of extremism and ISIS, as well as the heightened influence of traditional enemy Iran, are also a consideration in a new royal reign.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande have travelled to Riyadh to pay their respects to King Abdullah while a U.S. delegation is led by Vice-President Joe Biden. Prince Charles has also flown in, and flags above Buckingham Palace were respectfully lowered to half-mast.
U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Abdullah.
“(He) was always candid and had the courage of his convictions.”
Obama is shortening his three-day trip to India — dropping a visit to the Taj Mahal — and will fly to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet the new king.
Observing traditions of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam adhered to by Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah was buried in an unmarked grave after Friday prayers at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque.
[Image: Getty Images]