RIYADH (Reuters) -Saudi Arabia”s new King Abdullah has ordered citizens not to kiss his hand, saying the traditional gesture of respect is degrading and violates Islam, Saudi newspapers reported on Sunday.
"Kissing hands is alien to our values and morals, and is not accepted by free and noble souls," Abdullah told a delegation from Al-Baha, in southwest Saudi Arabia, who came to the royal palace to offer congratulations on his accession.
"It also leads to bowing, which is a violation of God”s law. The faithful bow to no one but God."
Abdullah became king on August 1 after the death of King Fahd. Thousands of Saudis flocked to pledge allegiance to him in the days that followed, many kissing him on the shoulder or stooping to kiss his hand in a sign of respect and loyalty.
But the king, who has a reputation for modesty in a family better known for opulence and power, said only a father or mother deserved such deference.
"I announce my complete rejection of this matter, and I ask everyone to restrain from kissing the hands of anyone but their parents," the monarch said.