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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Best Thing I've Read Today


The former president of the United States holding hands with an oppressive Middle East dictator.

I was going to write about how I've been sickened by the praise pouring in for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who died this week at age 90. I was going to rant yet again how we need to stop sucking up to tyrants just because they have oil under their sand. I was going to suggest that whoever represents the US at Abdullah's funeral (Obama/Biden/Kerry) should have a woman drive the limo to the service.

Then I read this piece by David Keyes, who says everything I would have and more:
Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the king was “brave” and “courageous,” a man of “wisdom and vision.” President Obama recalled his “genuine and warm friendship” with the king. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Abdullah a “powerful voice for tolerance, moderation and peace.”

Amina bint Nasser and Abdul Hammid al Fakki, beheaded for witchcraft under King Abdullah, were unavailable for comment. So too was Raif Badawi, lashed and jailed for opening a liberal online forum. Human rights lawyer, Waleed Abul Khair, jailed under King Abdullah also could not be reached.

In 2005, Abdullah said women would be allowed to drive. Ten years later, they’re still denied this most basic right. The King chose to appoint his draconian Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, crown prince and next in line to the throne until he died shortly thereafter. Abdullah massively funded the religious police, who continue to enforce gender discrimination and apartheid. The King did next to nothing to dismantle the guardianship system, which keeps women as effective slaves in their country, denied the right to travel without a man’s permission.

Why was the king considered brave? Did the he favor the right of non-Muslims to step foot in Mecca? No. Did he defend the right of people to openly question Islam? No. Did he allow direct critique against himself? No. Did he stand up for the rights of religious minorities? No. Did he pardon women from being beheaded for witchcraft? No.

The late king’s maneuverings were little more than slick PR gimmicks aimed at securing Western arm sales and diverting attention from his country’s gruesome record. Did he believe blasphemy, atheism, and homosexuality should be criminalized? Yes, yes and yes.
Read Keyes' full piece here.

Previously on Harris Online...