Beating an Old Woman, Saudi Style

It’s time for another segment of “All Religions are Equal”.  In another case of moral outrage, two young men delivered bread to a 75-year-old woman. The Saudi religious police, ever eagle-eyed, spotted the men at the woman’s house and arrested her. Because the men are unrelated to her, she’s been sentences to 40 lashes, 4 months imprisonment, and then deportation, because she’s a Syrian citizen.

Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi tried to argue that one of the men, Fahd, was her son according to Islam because she had breast-fed him, but the court wasn’t buying it. I’m not sure I buy it either, as the man is 24 and she would have been a 50-year-old wet nurse.  But don’t worry, Fahd’s not getting off lightly. He’s getting 40 lashes and four months as well. His friend Hadian has fared even worse. He’s getting six months in prison to heal from 60 lashes.

That’s the Wahhabist approach to Sharia. These are the Muslims that are our allies.

It’s not like everyone in Saudi Arabia is happy about this. “It’s made everybody angry because this is like a grandmother,” Saudi women’s rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider told CNN. “Forty lashes — how can she handle that pain? You cannot justify it.” That’s women’s rights activism in Saudi Arabia. It’ s not that Khamisa shouldn’t be beaten, but 40 lashes is too much. And as for the imprisonment, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Or I suppose in her case it should be “don’t take the bread if you can’t be locked up til you’re dead.”

But hey, they’ve got oil and we need it. And they are the good Muslims that are on our side, right? Who are we to say anything? We can’t make value judgements about their culture, after all.

The Cost of Coffee in Saudi Arabia

An American businesswoman is fearing for her life after she was arrested for having a coffee with a male workmate in a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia.

Yara, a 37-year-old mother-of-three, said she was strip searched and forced to sign false confessions while in custody. A judge then told her she would “burn in hell” before she was released on Feb 4.

I don’t like to meta-blog, but I’m a bit short on time, due to marking exams. However, the full story is worth a read.

Sharia Justice

A Saudi man was rendered impotent by a witch. We know this because the witch, Fawza Falih, admitted it. She was beaten before she confessed, but as any good CIA agent working in the war against terror knows, sometimes you have to use a little force to get the truth. Falih was beaten so badly that she had to be hospitalised.

And sometime it takes a while for criminals such as Falih to finally admit their crimes. She was held by the religious police for 35 days.

She didn’t exactly sign the confession, as she is illiterate. But there’s no denying her fingerprint is on it, and there’s no reason to believe that someone who has been beaten would have their finger forceably inked onto something they can’t read. Why should the religious police even read your confession to you before putting your fingerprint on it? They are the religious police after all. If you can’t trust them, who can you trust? And if you confess, why do you need to have your lawyers in the courtroom or present evidence of your innocence? Isn’t the claim of impotence by a man proof enough?

It’s a mere technicality that witchcraft isn’t a crime under Saudi law. She was sentenced to death anyway.

She managed to appeal and the appeals court overturned the verdict, saying she couldn’t be sentenced to death solely on the evidence of a retracted confession. Appellate decisions don’t carry a lot of weight in Saudi law. The trial court reversed the appeals court. It sentenced her to death on a “discretionary” basis, as this was in the “public interest”. There is no right of appeal from this second sentencing. Only the King can intervene and commute it.

There’s not a lot of international pressure on King Abdullah. It seems many countries used up their political capital last year when they persuaded the King to pardon a girl who was sentenced to lashes for getting herelf gang-raped. So Fawza Falih may die, but Saudi Arabia will remain a key ally of the West.

Dangerous Reforms

The Saudis are planning to give women the right to drive cars. Is this really a good idea?

Clearly they missed the recent news that women (and gay men) are the worst drivers. I mean, I’m all for women having equal rights with men, but clearly when there is an issue of public safety perhaps there needs to be a little more care taken in all of this liberalism sweeping the Arabian peninsula.

Then there’s the moral implications: “Allowing women to drive will only bring sin,” a letter to Al-Watan newspaper declared last year. “The evils it would bring – mixing between the genders, temptations, and tarnishing the reputation of devout Muslim women – outweigh the benefits.”