Manama: Saud King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has replaced the head of the royal protocol for slapping a photojournalist covering the arrival of Morocco’s King Mohammad VI in Riyadh.
A video clip of the warm accolade between King Salman and King Mohammad near the Moroccan plane at the airport also showed in the background Mohammad Al Tibaishi slapping the journalist, a few metres away from the two leaders. The security guard promptly stepped in to contain the incident.
The clip went viral on the Internet amid calls by bloggers for action against Al Tibaishi for abusing his authority against the helpless journalist.
King Salman issued a royal order shortly after the incident replacing Al Tibaishi with Khalid Al Abad, 56, with a wide experience in court protocols.
According to local news site Sabq, Al Tibaishi was removed by the late King Abdullah from his position as head of protocol in 2013, but was reinstated three months later.
No reasons were given for the removal or the reinstatement at the time.
“This is a great day for journalists and media figures,” Abdullah Al Bergawi, a journalist, said. “Removing the head of the royal protocol in support of a journalist is a clear consolidation of the status of the media and a victory for journalism. King Salman is again showing that no-one is above the law and that all people, officials or not, are to be held responsible for their words and deeds and for not respecting people’s right to dignity,” he said.
Last month, King Salman banned a senior member of the royal family from appearing on public and private television channels after he uttered remarks deemed racist.
Prince Mamdooh Bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, an honorary member of the Riyadh-based Al Nasr sports club, was also prevented from making statements to print or audio media and from taking part in all sports activities.
The ban was imposed after Prince Mamdooh in a live talk show on Saudi Sports Television questioned the merit of Adnan Jestiyeh, a sports writer, to comment on Saudi sports, referring to him as “Tarsh”.
The term is a pejorative reference to “pilgrim remnants”, usually young children left in the kingdom by their parents as they performed pilgrimage.
King Salman also sacked the health minister for denigrating remarks by a citizen who was complaining the ministry was not doing enough to assist his bed-ridden father.
The Riyadh airport incident and the reaction by King Salman prompted bloggers to heap praise on the mnarch for vindicating the photojournalist and “helping the helpless against abuses by people with authority.”
“Salman is obviously the champion of the needy,” Said posted. “History will recall his name as a courageous and brave leader who sought and delivered justice.”
Patriot said that King Salman would be recalled as the king who put deeds ahead of promises.
“You are genuinely defending the people’s right to live in dignity,” he said. “We love you for truly taking action before uttering promises and for upholding our dignity. You are the King of Resolve,” he said, in reference to the Storm of Resolve Operation led by Saudi Arabia to restore legitimacy in Yemen.