Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prince Faisal: International Community "Unfairly" Denigrates Saudis

Prince Faisal has distanced the Saudi government from a court's condemnation of a gang-rape victim to 200 lashes, but said "the judgment was being used to vilify the Saudi government." However ridiculous this statement is, it does tell concerned citizens something about the audience they need to persuade with their letters and phone calls.

Why not lobby the Saudi government on its own terms? One hardly must invoke Western standards of women’s rights or universal human rights to oppose this ruling: the sentence is unjust even according to Saudi standards (for a discussion of her lawyers' arguments click here). The ruling challenges (and justifies) King Abdullah’s efforts at judicial reform. And since the rapists were Sunni and their victim Shi’a, failing to commute the sentence will only make the “Girl from Qatif” a flashpoint for ethnic tensions in the Kingdom - something the authorities might care to defuse.

If advocates were to play on these concerns rather than invoking Western notions of gender justice or calling for invasion, they are likeliest to provoke a constructive response, rather than defensiveness.

In between calling the Saudi embassy, they might also lobby the Western media to stop giving a bully pulpit to the Justice Ministry’s claims that the victim has “confessed to adultery,” which if true can carry a sentence of death, rather than flogging.

Instead, reporters should focus on other under-reported aspects of the story:

The courage demonstrated by the victim’s husband in standing up for his wife in a culture where he is expected to kill her himself.

The fact that she is at as much risk from members of her extended family as from the state.

And how about the politically incorrect fact that both her companion and their rapists face flogging (up to 1000 lashes) as well? These too are human beings, eh?


John Paul Jones said...


The sentence is a grave embarrassment to the vast majority of Saudis... please see the "Saudi Jeans" blog, for example. Attacking the entire system, which IS in need of reform only results in a "circle the wagons" response. A more targeted, nuanced response is not only appropriate, but much more effective.

And sometime we might want to raise the issue about why the Equal Rights Amendment cannot be passed in the United States... diverting one's attention, "honey", to those less fortunate than yourself, helps keep it that way.

Cleitus the Black said...

Oh, listen to the howls that go up when a convicted rapist is sentenced to a taste o'the lash...

While I agree that the girl and her unfortunate friend should of course be spared the heaping of injury upon injury, I say trice the miscreants up and let them dance a merry jig to the cat'o'nine.

A good public thrashing may not reform a cretin's soul, but ought give pause to anyone in the crowd who might otherwise have been liable to play the rapist...

...of course, there is much to be said for reforming both Western and Islamic penal law so that villains around the world may know that a conviction for rape will result in but two things; a public scourging at the hands of a brawny lictor (my vote, for consistency, is 100 lashes) and a subsequent gelding. Second offense (rape being a crime of power vice sexuality) and I'd recommend removal of both hands at the wrist - (hard to hold anyone down with those nubbins, aye?) - and of course, for the ingenious and recalcitrant offender who somehow manages a third offense with a scarred back, a useless prong, and a matched set of stubs, well, off to the gallows, says I...

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