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World Leaders Mourn Saudi Oil Monarch as ‘Strong Advocate for Women’

London, United Kingdom. 7th January 2015 -- Flags at half mast on the roof of the Ministry of Defence which has had close ties to Saudi Arabia -- Flags on UK Government buildings were at half mast to mourn King Abdullah, head of the controversial theocratic regime in Saudi Arabia, who died. Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been regularly criticised by campaigners. Photograph by: Andy Thornley. Copyright: Demotix

London, United Kingdom. 7th January 2015 — Flags at half mast on the roof of the Ministry of Defence which has had close ties to Saudi Arabia — Flags on UK Government buildings were at half mast to mourn King Abdullah, head of the controversial theocratic regime in Saudi Arabia, who died. Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been regularly criticised by campaigners. Photograph by: Andy Thornley. Copyright: Demotix

This tweet by satirist Karl Sharro doesn't sound too far fetched considering the outpour of seemingly unmitigated praise for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died on January 23, 2015.

Most notably, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), called the late King, who held four of his daughters in captivity, a “strong advocate for women” in an interview to Reuters. In a statement, she also adds:

He was a global statesman who was admired not only in Saudi Arabia, but around the world. He strongly believed in global cooperation and worked hard toward this goal. At home, he implemented many important and difficult changes that have strengthened the economy of Saudi Arabia. He leaves a considerable legacy.

In a White House statement, US President Barack Obama said “King Abdullah's vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world”, while Secretary of State John Kerry mourned him as a “revered leader” in a tweet.

However, the most unexpected and bizarre message came from none other than actress Lindsay Lohan who reportedly posted, then deleted, an Instagram photo of the King along with a message in Arabic that said “I love you” and “you are my whole world”.

Several Arab countries have announced a period of mourning. In the UK, government buildings, with the notable the exception of Scotland, the Union Jack was even flown at half-mast.

The United Kingdom flies its flag at half mast to mourn the death of King Abdullah

Such a sign of deference sparked the outrage of many including British Member of Parliament Sarah Wollaston (@drwollastonmp), who tweeted:

English author and politician Louise Mensch added:

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell wrote:

Women are not allowed to drive and cannot leave the country without permission from their “guardians” in the conservative kingdom whose distressing record of human rights violations includes the public flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who is deemed “guilty” of founding an online forum for public debate and for “insulting Islam.”

World leaders and high level officials from across the globe flocked to Riyadh to pay their respects. The Prince of Wales and David Cameron landed in the Saudi capital on January 25.

And US president Barack Obama cut short a trip to India to visit the Saudi kingdom.

King Abdullah's successor is his half-brother, 79 year-old Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who has changed his Twitter handle from @HRHPSalman to @KingSalman on the day of his predecessor's death.

May Allah have mercy on Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and reward him and help the Saudi people on his loss

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, 90, who came to power in August 2005, after the death of his half-brother Fahad bin Abdulaziz, is now succeeded by his other brother Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is 79. They are all the sons of King Abdulaziz, who founded Saudi Arabia in 1932, and have been ascending the throne in succession over the years. Abdulaziz had 45 sons of whom 36 survived to adulthood and had children of their own.

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