Tuesday, 30 October 2007

'Shared values'

In London this week we are treated to the obscene spectacle of a state visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

Kim Howells at the FO has told us not to focus on what divides us but on ‘our shared values’. Obviously I can’t speak for Mr Howells but I’m pretty sure that I don’t share any values with the bigoted tyrannical murderous arsehole that’s being feted at Buckingham palace today.

Let’s get it right about Saudi Arabia – its record on human rights clearly sets it apart as a pariah state:

• A record of capital punishment that puts it in the premier division of state killers.

• A legal system that is theocratic – using medieval Shari’a law as the basis for corporal punishments such as flogging and amputation.

• An absolute monarchy that bans political parties and extends political rights to a minority of the population.

• Systematic denial of women’s rights – an elaborate machinery of repression that tells them how to dress, limits their freedom to travel, and denies them access to education and many other aspects of civil society.

• An economy that rests on 9 million migrant workers largely from SE Asia who live lives of virtual slavery and are denied the most basic rights.

• Institutionalised corruption (remember the BAE scandal and the SFO investigation?)

And to add insult to injury, the cheeky fucker wants to lecture us about stepping up the war on terror! It was fifteen of his countrymen who participated in the 9/11 attacks and Bin Laden himself is a follower of the Saudi’s homegrown version of funda-mentalism – the Wahhabi sect.

The hypocrisy of the whole episode is appalling: Mugabe is (rightly) treated as a tyrant with whom the government will have no dealings, whilst Abdullah is given the red carpet treatment. And people seeking asylum from repressive regimes are turned away at our airports whilst Abdullah is given an official welcome when he flies in with his ridiculous entourage.

Shared values?

The only things I can see in common are a profound respect for OIL and everything else that flows from it – like £4.4 billion of exports.

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