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Saudis pledge loyalty to cardboard cutouts of new king

5 February 2015 13:08

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People in Saudi Arabia are showing their loyalty to their new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, by shaking hands with the full-size cardboard cutouts of the monarch, a new video shows.

The video purportedly belonging to a boy’s and a girl’s school surfaced on social media showing Saudis pledging allegiance to the new monarch by shaking hands with full-size cardboard cutouts of their new leader as well as Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef , the first and second heirs to the throne respectively.

In the video the hands of three people standing behind the cutouts can be seen extended through a slot to shake hands with the people.

The ceremony, called a bay’ah, is a traditional Islamic oath of allegiance to a leader. The practice traces back to the era of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) when the Islamic community was small, and it was practical for people to meet their leaders.

However, now it is practically impossible for the kingdom’s new monarch to shake hands with everyone who wants to pledge allegiance in person.

The former King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, died on January 23, at the age of 90 after weeks of being hospitalized with a lung infection. He was in power for nearly two decades.

His successor and half-brother, Salman, has promised to follow in the footsteps of the late Saudi monarch. He had been serving as defense minister since 2011.

His monarchy also coincides with the kingdom’s struggle with dissent in the east and the region’s attempts to deal with the repercussions of the terrorism funded and exported by Riyadh.

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