Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has come out calling for Saudis to stop their (recently acquired) custom of kissing hands to show respect (or fealty). This is not the first time the King has criticized the practice, but he’s now coming out as totally against it.
There is a Bedouin practice of kissing various body parts — forehead, nose, shoulders, etc. — to show respect, but Saudi Arabia isn’t a Bedouin country anymore. The practice, says the head of the Islamic Committee of the Shoura Council, should be reserved to parents and a few others, but only as an act of respect, not subservience.
The practice of hand-kissing returns to spark controversy in Saudi Arabia. Some people reject it as humiliating; others support it as an act of respect.
Among those who oppose this practice is Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
“I announce from where I stand my complete rejection of this matter and I ask everyone to do accordingly and refrain from kissing hands except for parents, honoring them,” the king said in a previous statement.
Recently Twitter users circulated photos of some preachers smiling while having their hands kissed.
In some regions of the kingdom traditional hand-kissing used to be common, but it is now mainly considered as disrespectful.
Some people say that only parents or elderly relatives should have their hands kissed, in a display of love and respect.