Roger L. Simon

Living with the Middle Ages

This report in the Guardian spooked me in light of the Vincent murder below.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – King Abdullah received oaths of loyalty from hundreds of top Islamic clerics, tribal chiefs and other prominent Saudis on Wednesday in a traditional Islamic investiture ceremony that bestows his legitimacy.

Members of the Supreme Council of Senior Islamic clerics were the first to file by Abdullah in a Riyadh palace, shake his hand and pronounce their allegiance to him as Saudi Arabia’s sixth king.

The House of Saud has depended on the support of clerics from the kingdom’s strict Wahhabi version of Islam ever since Abdullah’s father, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, welded the Arabian peninsula tribes into a nation under his name in 1932.

Hundreds of tribal chiefs, religious clerics, government officials and uniformed senior armed forces officers waited in the big hall of the palace, covered with silk carpets, for their turn to honor Abdullah. A palace servant swung an incense burner among them to bless the gathering.

Security was tight, with armed agents wandering the hall, wearing traditional white robes and red headdresses, toting automatic weapons and loops of ammunition.

Vice President Dick Cheney was headed to the kingdom, a close U.S. ally, and was expected to meet Abdullah later Wednesday.

Some ally.