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Saudi King Abdullah Criticism On Twitter Following His Death

On Thursday, January 22, it was announced in America that, King Abdullah, Head of the House of Saud, Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was dead. Since the death of Saudi Arabia’s monarch, Twitter has been sending their condolences to the friends and family of King Abdullah — as well as their criticisms of this 90-year-old “reformist” leader. King Abdullah’s successor will be his brother, the former Crown Prince, Salman.

King Abdullah served following his brother King Fahd’s death from August 1, 2005 until his death in January. Before he was named as the lead monarch and was still the Crown Prince, King Abdullah worked with President George W. Bush in the days following September 11, 2001. On September 11, 2002, King Abdullah wrote a letter to President G.W. Bush on behalf of the Saudi Embassy saying.

“God Almighty, in His wisdom, tests the faithful by allowing such calamities to happen. But He, in His mercy, also provides us with the will and determination, generated by faith, to enable us to transform such tragedies into great achievements, and crises that seem debilitating are transformed into opportunities for the advancement of humanity. I only hope that, with your cooperation and leadership, a new world will emerge out of the rubble of the World Trade Center: a world that is blessed by the virtues of freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony.”

Therefore, it was not surprising to see that within hours of King Abdullah’s death that some of the first major world leaders to show their grief were Presidents Obama and Bush. Obama spoke of appreciating King Abdullah’s perspective and felt that they had a friendship that was genuine. President Obama’s official statement from the White House following the death of King Abdullah states.

“King Abdullah’s life spanned from before the birth of modern Saudi Arabia through its emergence as a critical force within the global economy and a leader among Arab and Islamic nations. He took bold steps in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, an endeavor that will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region. At home, King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.”

Fox News reports that Vice President Joe Biden will be meeting with the Saudi Royal Family in the next days to pay respects from the White House. ITV states that Prince Charles of England will also make a visit to King Abdullah’s family in the near future. Other world leaders that were quick to express their sincere grief to King Abdullah’s family and nation included Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker.

Despite the appreciation by politicians and other world leaders, Twitter has a lot of criticism for King Abdullah’s praise for being a “reformer.” The Independent UK points out that he did in fact have multiple reforms. For example, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and hold office, did not allow himself to be addressed as “your majesty,” and had his own Facebook page as a way to allow citizens to complain to him personally.

Alternatively, on Twitter, King Abdullah is being criticized for imprisoning women for driving, giving a liberal blogger 1,000 lashes, and has a long history of being on the Human Rights Watch list. A statement was released by the Human Rights Watch organization following King Abdullah’s death that says.

“King Abdullah’s successor, King Salman, should halt persecution of peaceful dissidents and religious minorities, end pervasive discrimination against women, and ensure greater protections for migrant workers…. Authorities have not ended the discriminatory male guardianship system… practices [that] forbid women from obtaining a passport, marrying, traveling, or accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian, usually a husband, father, brother, or son. Employers can still require male guardians to approve the hiring of adult female relatives and some hospitals to require male guardian approval for certain medical procedures for women. Women remain forbidden from driving in Saudi Arabia, and authorities have arrested women who dared challenge the driving ban.”

[All images from the referenced links. Feature image is from Astrowani.com.]