This week saw the passing of the 90-year-old King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia but the strangest part of this news has been the reaction of the British Establishment and particularly Westminster Abbey. As reported in Ed West’s blog for The Spectator, Why is Westminster Abbey honouring the king of a country where Christianity is banned? the Abbey lowered its flag to half-mast in honour of the Saudi King!
Now it is true King Abdullah has made some efforts to soften his kingdom’s abhorrent attitudes to human rights and dignity (such as considering the possibility of allowing women to drive!) but surely this is a bizarre response from a so-called Christian church? Our newspapers have recently featured the plight of blogger Raif Badawi who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes over 20 weeks for ‘insulting Islam’ and ‘disobedience’. All forms of Christianity are completely banned in Saudi Arabia and even being found in possession of a Bible will land you in serious trouble. Saudi Arabia is the ONLY country in the whole world that has an official policy of banning all churches and it exports one of the most barbaric and poisonous forms of Islam worldwide. Yet, a country that so aggressively persecutes Christians (not to mention women, homosexuals and other minorities) is afforded this gesture by who…the church! This really is quite astounding and the hierarchy in Saudi Arabia must be either totally confused by this or falling over laughing!
A polite acknowledgement by the British Royal Family is certainly appropriate but this disturbing action by Westminster Abbey acts as a total betrayal of all persecuted Christians within the Saudi kingdom and further afield and will only serve to worsen their situation and bolster the persecutors. It really would not be possible to make this up!