Ominous headline: “New Saudi king promises continuity”

Booooooooo. Wrong. Bad move. Go back and start over. Lose a turn.

“Continuity” for Saudi Arabia means more fanatical religiosity governing everything, more theocratic meddling, more sadistic punishments for the utterance of liberal thoughts, more frenzied efforts to conceal the existence of women, more criminally bad treatment of foreign workers, more crawling before “god” and stamping on perceived inferiors.

Within hours of acceding to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman, 78, vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

The new king’s profile was updated on his official Twitter account, where he wrote: “I ask God to help me succeed in my service of the dear [Saudi] people.”

Ha, that’s silly – he doesn’t mean people, he means men, and only some of those. He’s not doing any service to Raif Badawi.

Protocol permits no official mourning period, government offices stay open and flags remain at full mast.

The reason is that the House of Saud practises one of the strictest codes of Islam – known as Wahhabism – in which followers try to emulate precisely the behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad and avoid anything seen as un-Islamic “innovations”.

Public displays of grief are frowned upon by a religious establishment which views every aspect of life and death as a submission to God’s supreme will.

That means funerals are very austere and puritanical in character, with a strong impression of egalitarianism in death.

Because humanity has learned nothing in the last 1400 years, so it’s better to try to emulate precisely the behaviour of a guy who died 1400 years ago than to try to improve things for everyone as we learn more about human beings and their needs and wants and how to harmonize them.



  1. busterggi says

    “a guy who died 1400 years ago”

    If he ever existed. The contemporary evidence for Mohammed is as non-existant as for Jesus.

  2. dmcclean says

    This is probably bad news for Badawi, isn’t it? It had started to look as if they might back down on the lashings, probably with some sort of face-saving nonsense, but there was a chance. Now that there has been this death and the ensuing transition, won’t the new king and his functionaries want to avoid the appearance of upstaging the old king that would come with backing down? It also seems that under the timing circumstances, such a decision might be seen to have more weight as a new precedent than it otherwise might?

    I’m certainly not at all knowledgeable about internal politics in the Saudi court, these are just extremely uneducated guesses, but it seems like a stroke of bad luck.

  3. shadow says

    So, in trying to avoid un-islamic ‘innovations’ he isn’t using electricity. airplanes, modern media (TV, radio, internet)? Wasn’t his brother in a frickin’ hospital with ‘modern’ treatment?

    How is that emulating the prophet?

  4. johnthedrunkard says

    Not showing grief is a Wahhabi ‘thing.’ They also tear down monuments and desecrate Muslim cemetaries because putting up a tombstone for uncle Abdul is tantamount to ‘idolatry.’

    Remember, the biggest threat to the Saudi elite has been the clergy. Remember 1979? They had to call in the French to get the Grand Mosque back from the crazies.

  5. Yuki says

    I listened to a bit of NPR commentary on this while driving earlier, and they kept presenting King Abdullah as an honored U.S. ally and somehow worthy of respect. A guest on one of the interview shows (I’m afraid I can’t remember which one) even talked about King Abdullah being somewhat progressive. All I could think of were the horrific violations of human rights that go on unchecked in Saudi Arabia all the time. I feel like they were trying to be respectful to King Abdullah in his death to the extent of neglecting all of the horrible things he was complicit with.

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