Sucking up to the Saudi king



Irshad Manji

Posted in Irshaddering Thoughts on Oct 30, 2007

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is in the UK for a state visit. Just when you think the Bush White House has mastered how to kiss the ring of the king, British officialdom manages to out-do Washington — not only in ceremony but also in hypocrisy.

After piously declaring human rights to be “universal”, and after warning despots from Zimbabwe to Burma that they won’t be embraced by 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued a slick (dare I say oily) message to Abdullah: Welcome, chap!

A pity, really.

Let me explain why diplomacy is duplicity in this case. Saudi Arabia does not represent Islamic fundamentalism , as the fundamentals of my religion are supposed to emphasize God’s mercy. Rather, the Saudi Kingdom epitomizes foundamentalism. By this I mean an ideological fixation with the founding moment moment of Islam — the 7th century.

Saudi teachings conflate personal faith with tribal culture, imposing on women a stifling style of dress and behavior, codifying the inferiority of minorities (including Muslim minorities), enforcing uncritical allegiance to the higher-ups, equating debate with division and, ultimately, reducing the unity of believers to uniformity of belief.

All of these are signs of a tribal time-warp. They’ve been exported to much of the Muslim world through a pact that Saudi Arabia’s father struck with clerics for the sake of their support. Lubricated by oil wealth, the deal is that the Saudi state will spread a spartan islam — foundamentalism — that strips the faith of its intellectual vibrancy and God-given free will.

In this way, hundreds of millions of Muslims have become culturally occupied by the norms of Arabia. To treat the Saudi regime to a diplomatic jamboree is to reinforce this malicous — and dangerous — confusion between desert culture and pluralistic Islam.

Am I the one being too dogmatic here? If so, allow me to challenge my own position (which no self-respect dogmatist would ever do). The British government should, indeed, receive the Saudi king — but only if Prime Minister Brown is taking tips from London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, who frequently hosts Muslim imperialists. We wouldn’t want a repeat of the inhospitality that Iran’s president recently received in New York. Britain, thank Allah, is far more progressive than America.

And we progressives are the last great hope for defending the human rights owed to colonizers of color. In that spirit, I shall keep a stiff upper lip.



1 Response to “Sucking up to the Saudi king”

  1. 1 Nona
    November 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Well “KISSING UP” is a common policy these days anyway… doesnt make a difference if ur leadig the world or ur just some small, random country!!!

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