Sunday, 25 November 2007

Saudi Justice

The wheels of justice move swiftly in Saudi Arabia. Just a couple of days ago the ministry of justice in that bastion of democracy and human rights promised, amid mounting international outrage, to review the sentence of 6 months in jail and 200 lashes with a bamboo cane handed down to an unnamed 19 year old rape victim. And today, they have reported back. Sentence confirmed.

Far from acknowledging international concern, indeed, the Saudis are positively bullish. The sentence was perfectly in order, they said, since it followed "the book of God and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad."

Far from being an innocent victim of a brutal gang-rape (a crime barely alluded to in the statement) the girl was in fact a brazen hussy who had plotted to meet a former boyfriend "in a dark place" and had been discovered (presumably by her abductors) insufficiently dressed.

Although she was not married at the time, she is now being described as "a married woman who confessed to having an affair with the man she was caught with."

That last part might even be true. People confess to anything after a few days in the company of the Saudi police.

Since the young woman's husband has given her his full support (which in Saudi terms makes him something of a hero), one might think it little or no business of the authorities what she got up to. But that would be to underestimate the devotion to morality and virtue in that righteous land.

Many of Saudi Arabia's princely elite, after all, are forced to visit Europe if they want to guzzle champagne at casinos in the company of expensive whores, as they often do. The rest of the young male population, bereft of the female company many would doubtless prefer, are reduced to cruising for gay sex on the streets of Riyadh.

"The Saudi justice minister expressed his regret about the media reports over the role of the women in this case which put out false information and wrongly defend her," the statement continued.

No regret about the appalling rape she suffered, then.

Shared values, indeed.