It’s both mind-boggling and disgusting that the United States has created a special competition to honor a foreign, murderous despot renowned for violating human rights, suppressing freedom of speech, publicly lashing adversaries and persecuting women.
This so-called “hero” is also famous for beheading those who commit minor crimes, murdering dissidents and stifling online criticism through intimidation, arrests, prosecutions and long jail sentences. It’s downright obscene that a civilized nation like the U.S. that values human rights and due process would even consider honoring this sort of tyrant. His name is Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, the former king of Saudi Arabia who died this month. President Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, actually referred to the deceased king this week as “a man of remarkable character and courage.”
Human rights groups throughout the world have long blasted Abdullah and made sure to recall his atrocities after he died on January 23 at the age of 90. One well-known international organization, Human Rights Watch, points out that systematic discrimination against women persists in Saudi Arabia and this: “Under Abdullah’s watch, authorities rounded up scores of peaceful dissidents and human rights activists who dared to criticize the government, subjecting them to unfair trials before Saudi Arabia’s terrorism court on vague charges such as ‘sowing discord’ and ‘breaking allegiance with the ruler.’”
A prominent American Muslim organization based in Arizona released a statement saying it “shed no tears for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia,” calling him the head of a “tyrannical, murderous and notoriously repressive government.” The deceased king is responsible for the execution of dissidents, the torture of minorities and the exportation of the most malignant strain of politicized, radicalized Islam the world has known, the announcement further states. Under Abdullah’s reign Saudi Arabia remained a country where bloggers received potentially fatal lashings, writers were jailed for tweets, dissidents are beheaded and the monarchy itself participates in child marriage, according to the group, American Islamic Forum for Democracy.
None of this stopped General Dempsey from creating a preposterous research and essay competition in honor of the dead king. The contest will be hosted by the National Defense University in Washington D.C., which issued a press release promoting the outrageous competition. It quotes General Dempsey saying “this is an important opportunity to honor the memory of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, while also fostering scholarly research on the Arab-Muslin world, and I can think of no better home for such an initiative than NDU.”
In a separate announcement posted on the Pentagon’s website, General Dempsey refers to the king as “a man of remarkable character and courage” and says the essay competition is a “fitting tribute to the life and leadership of the Saudi Arabian monarch.” The general also praises the autocrat for overseeing the “modernization of his country’s military” and points out that the king was a lifetime supporter of his country’s alliance with the United States. So what if he’s a murderous despot with a documented track record of violating human rights, suppressing freedom of speech, publicly lashing adversaries and persecuting women?