Advisors to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia may have thought that pardoning “the girl from Qatif” would quiet critics at home and abroad who were outraged by the way she was treated by the fundamentalist-Islamic Saudi justice system. But from many quarters, the pardon, reported in a Saudi newspaper on Monday, seems to be renewing the criticism and calls for reform.
A bit of back story: This is the now-notorious case of a 19-year-old woman, recently married, who, having been seen sitting in a car with a man to whom she was not related, was abducted and repeatedly raped by seven men. The assailants were prosecuted (for kidnapping, not rape), but so was the woman, known publicly only as the Girl From Qatif, and the man she was with, for the Saudi crime of “illegal mingling.” And the two victims got a harsher sentence than some of the assailants initially did: 90 lashes and several months in prison. When she appealed and the case began to attract international attention, the sentence was increased to 200 lashes, and the court suspended her attorney’s license to practice law.
Read on at the NY Times
I've been meaning to blog about this case for a while but it took some time because I wanted to make sure I get the facts of the story and the Islamic ruling straight before I 'lash out' right and left. Then, I found out about the royal pardon.
When is this injustice going to stop? When will Muslims and Muslim governments start practising what they preach: justice, enjoining the good, respect for women... Until Muslims begin to stand up against injustices happening to the weak in their own country, I can't blame people for thinking we are a bunch of chauvinistic hypocrites.
Why do I say this? Do you know that this case got zero coverage in Arabic (non-Saudi)press in the Middle East? At least, I couldn't find anything. Of course, that's until the royal pardon came along. That, the press covers. And of course, don't expect the imams to talk about it in their khutbahs - God forbid they discuss any current event issue. Too bad we don't have more Sheikh Sadullah Khans:
Just as we are appalled at the recent blatant display of Saudi Chauvinism in the verdict against a s woman who was sentenced to 90 lashes despite being a victim of gang-raped by 7 men when she tried to retrieve something with her friend from another car. These men were sentenced to 80 to 1000 lashes. When she made a public plea for justice, she was sentenced to 200 lashes and her lawyer was reprimanded.
This is neither fair, nor just and certainly NOT Islamic.
Even the war criminal Mr. G. W. Bush was outraged by the verdict - it took US intervention to get the Saudi royal family to pay pardon this poor girl.
But pardoning alone is not enough. The damage has been done. The message sent to the thousands of rape victims out there is do not dare report the horrible crimes that have been committed against you.