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Saudi Prince Pardons Rape Victim:

The AP reports:

A woman sentenced to prison and a public lashing after being gang-raped has been pardoned by the Saudi monarch in a case that sparked an international outcry, including rare criticism from the United States, the kingdom's top ally. . . .

With the pardon, Abdullah appeared to be aiming to relieve the pressure from the United States without being seen to criticize Saudi Arabia's conservative Islamic legal system, a stronghold of powerful clerics of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

The announcement of Abdullah's pardon was published Monday on the front pages of Al-Jazirah newspaper, which is deemed close to the royal family. But it did not appear in any other local media or the state-run news agency _ in an apparent attempt to play down the case at home.

Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik defended the courts, saying the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but that he was acting in the "interests of the people." . . .

Amnesty International said the man who was raped received the same sentence as the woman. Al-Jazirah did not mention whether he had been pardoned as well.

The story does not report whether she received her pardon before or after she received the lashes to which she was sentenced.

UPDATE: A commenter notes the Saudi press reports the pardon occurred before any lashes were administered.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Saudi Prince Pardons Rape Victim:
  2. Where Are Islam's Silent Moderates?
  3. Justice, Saudi Style:
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"Where Are Islam's Silent Moderates?"

They're silent because they've seen what happens to moderates who aren't.
12.19.2007 11:23am
Stelly:
Well, the Prince may have intended well with his pardon, but what about the deterrent effect of the punishment? He better hope she does not repeat her past behavior because of his leniency. If she does get raped again, won't Abdullah have to share the blame?
12.19.2007 11:46am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I don't expect him to be as lenient a second time around. Besides, if it truly was a rape, as we understand the word, then she likely has little real culpability, esp. as compared to the guy involved. This appears that this is not the typical type of adultery that gets women in that country killed and their paramours lashed.

Yes, the King may have done it for us. But I still think that it is a good sign, from a very repressive religious regime.
12.19.2007 11:56am
Tom S (mail):
Better to change the laws in the first place. Bring 'em into the 18th Century.
12.19.2007 11:56am
George Smith (mail):
Must have been due to the storm of protests from Western feminist organizations. Oh, wait..............
12.19.2007 12:07pm
ejo:
and, yet, the President of our country walks hand in hand with the savages from that country.
12.19.2007 12:16pm
Yankev (mail):
Did the prince also restore the rights of her lawyer, who was disbarred for advocating her rights too strenuously? And when will the ABA organize nationwide demonstrations in his behalf as it did on behalf of the Pakistani supreme court and the Pakistani bar?
12.19.2007 12:18pm
Oren:

Besides, if it truly was a rape, as we understand the word, then she likely has little real culpability, esp. as compared to the guy involved.

That's according to the Western philosophy. There are philosophies that place as much blame on her because she got herself into a situation where she was raped. For instance, she should not have been outside her house without a male escort - that's the law. It is because she broke this law that she got raped and so she shares the blame.

Western misunderstanding of (some parts) of Islamic law are not going to be beneficial in the long run.
12.19.2007 12:23pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
The girl (and her male companion) were pardoned before any punishment was inflicted.

The pardon itself was a huge slap in the face to the Saudi judiciary and Ministry of Justice. The Minister of Justice, a descendant of Abdul Wahhab, had to read it on Saudi TV. This, coming after both the Ministry and several former and sitting judges had defended the enhanced sentence, nudges religious authorities further from the centers of power.

Saudi Arabia has announced a major overhaul of the entire legal system and structure. They've yet to determine whether they will attempt to codify Sharia law, something I think crucial to reform.

It's useful, btw, to remember that the girl was not sentenced for being raped, but for the prior and separate crime (in Saudi Arabia) of khulwa, being in the presence of an unrelated male in a state of seclusion.
12.19.2007 12:28pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Yankev: Saudi media reports that the girl's attorney will have his license reinstated after the 'Eid Al-Adha holiday, which ends around Dec. 22.
12.19.2007 12:29pm
yeehah (mail):
"Must have been due to the storm of protests from Western feminist organizations. Oh, wait............"

This is asinine. There was a storm of criticism from Western feminists. Mustn't let the facts get in the way of a good narrative though.
12.19.2007 12:36pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

It's useful, btw, to remember that the girl was not sentenced for being raped, but for the prior and separate crime (in Saudi Arabia) of khulwa, being in the presence of an unrelated male in a state of seclusion.


Why is that "useful"?
12.19.2007 12:48pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

It is because she broke this law that she got raped and so she shares the blame.


Wow.
12.19.2007 12:49pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Well, the Prince may have intended well with his pardon, but what about the deterrent effect of the punishment? He better hope she does not repeat her past behavior because of his leniency. If she does get raped again, won't Abdullah have to share the blame?
This reminds me of the recent flap over Huckabee's pardon of a rapist who murdered somebody after he was out of prison. Now I'm imagining attack ads calling Abdullah soft on crime because he pardoned a rape victim who had the temerity to get herself raped again.
12.19.2007 12:50pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Western misunderstanding of (some parts) of Islamic law are not going to be beneficial in the long run.'

I find this ambiguous. Just what have we westerners misunderstood? And who is not benefiting from our alleged failure to understand?

As to whether she was to be beaten for being raped or for being outside the house, that's a distinction without a difference.
12.19.2007 12:51pm
ejo:
we have "misunderstood" how backward these countries and their religious/social practices are. I think that is a perfectly legitimate point to make-the attitudes in that country are as alien to our Western way of thinking as a martians would be.
12.19.2007 12:58pm
karrde (mail) (www):
As to whether there is a difference between being whipped for being away from the chaperone, and being whipped for being raped:

Can we tell whether young women apprehended while unchaperoned get similar treatment in Saudi Arabia? If we don't have this data, we cannot tell if the distinction actually describes a difference.

yeehaa: would you kindly tell us which American feminists reacted in the way you describe?
12.19.2007 1:03pm
karrde (mail) (www):
Edit to above post:
Can we tell whether young women apprehended while unchaperoned get similar treatment in Saudi Arabia?

Change to:

Can we tell whether young women apprehended while unchaperoned get treatment similar to this rape victim in Saudi Arabia?
12.19.2007 1:05pm
Gaius Marius:
Great! Now when is this country going to stop death row executions???
12.19.2007 1:21pm
ejo:
only 19 odd posts to the moral equivalency argument. you are so right-we are just as bad as the Saudis and, you know, Pol Pot did have his good points. who are we to judge?
12.19.2007 1:24pm
Ken Arromdee:
I wouldn't be surprised if feminists did speak out against this, and in general, if leftists spoke out against it. Saudi Arabia is an unusual case, because Bush likes it, even though the average man-in-the-street Republican doesn't, and it's nominally a US ally. Groups that would never speak out against, say, mistreatment of gays in Iran, are for this reason willing to speak out against Saudi Arabia.
12.19.2007 1:46pm
Cornellian (mail):
I hereby speak out against the treatment of gay people in both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
12.19.2007 2:23pm
W. Richards:
From Salon.com's Broadsheet blog (posted by Tracy Clark-Flory on Dec. 17, 2007):


Saudi king spares rape victim
This morning there came some shockingly good news: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has reportedly pardoned the so-called Girl of Qatif. The 19-year-old gang-rape victim no longer faces 200 lashes and six months in jail for being improperly dressed in the company of an unrelated male (and thus unfairly tempting the men who happened upon the pair to repeatedly rape them both). After writing about this case for over a year, we couldn't, at least very realistically, have hoped for a better outcome.

And yet, it's worth noting the king's reason for overturning her sentence. The Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheikh, told Al Jazirah, "The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair." Her brother, by the way, has already attempted to kill her, and she has made at least one suicide attempt. In the king's eyes, the "Girl of Qatif" deserved every last one of those lashings she was sentenced to but is being spared the punishment because she's suffering to his liking (i.e., she already wants to die).

By all means, celebrate the pardon, but this won't be the last time a Saudi rape victim is sentenced to punishment for provoking her attackers.


Click here for the link to the blog post. (Note: free access only provided by watching an ad to provide a day pass).

You can also search this blog for more information on the case.
12.19.2007 2:30pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'd invite her to visit the United States then let her claim humanitarian refugee status here. She'd escape a barbaric society, we'd annoy the Saudis and we'd let the women of the Middle East know there's nothing inevitable about the horrible conditions they have to live under. It's a win-win.
12.19.2007 2:36pm
just watching666 (mail):
While I describe myself as a liberal, not a leftist, I do join with Cornellian. I hereby speak out against the treatment of gay people in both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
12.19.2007 2:42pm
anonthu:
Western misunderstanding of (some parts) of Islamic law are not going to be beneficial in the long run.

I think we understand it just fine, thank you.
12.19.2007 2:42pm
CJColucci:
I wouldn't be surprised if feminists did speak out against this, and in general, if leftists spoke out against it. Saudi Arabia is an unusual case, because Bush likes it, even though the average man-in-the-street Republican doesn't, and it's nominally a US ally. Groups that would never speak out against, say, mistreatment of gays in Iran, are for this reason willing to speak out against Saudi Arabia.

My vague impression -- vague because I don't concern myself much with scoring points about whether people make empty gestures -- is that a number of people all along the political spectrum have criticized both Iran and Saudi Arabia. It may well be true, however, that "leftists," however defined, are more likely to criticize misbehavior of one of our supposed allies as opposed to misbehavior of one of our supposed enemies. Without getting into questions of individual sincerity, which I also don't much care about except if I may have to deal with the people in question, it does seem like a more rational use of time and effort to gripe about people over whom we may have some influence, or with whom we associate ourselves, than it would be to gripe about people we already think ill of and have no influence over. I've noticed that parents tend to care more about the behavior of their own children than about that of others. Damned hypocrites.
12.19.2007 3:00pm
Oren:
ejo and Bob, I think you misunderstood my post. I don't, in any way, condone the horrific repression of women (and gays) in Saudi society. Nor do I believe in any form of moral equivalence between their legal system and ours. My post was descriptive, not normative.

That said, whether or not we approve of their value system, it is important that we, at minimum, make an effort to understand it. The key point in all this is the fact that this woman broke the law - it is an unjust law, to be sure, but still a law. In the eyes of Saudi law, she had no right to be where she was and her breaking that law contributed in no small part to the result of her being raped. This does not (and did not!) absolve the rapists but their guilt does not, in turn, absolve her.

For completeness, I will append another disclaimer to the end: I don't approve of the reasoning in the above paragraph - it is abhorrent to me. Disgust is, however, no excuse for ignorance.
12.19.2007 3:23pm
ejo:
I don't disagree with the post. I think you were right-this was a perfectly legitimate and "just" result under the system in place there. I would rather that be pointed out, just like I think pointing out the warts of Islam is a far better way to understand it than bleating about the "religion of peace".
12.19.2007 3:29pm
Oren:
ejo - I'm all for your previous post if you prepend "Wahabi" before "Islam". There are Islamic scholars that disagree vehemently with the subjugation of women and the endless jihad. By focusing solely on the warts we tend to weaken the prestige of those trying to do better.
12.19.2007 3:47pm
Cato:
I think we ought to send Britany and Jamie-Lynn's mom to Saudi Arabia. Maybe they could teach that family something
12.19.2007 3:53pm
Waldensian (mail):

There are Islamic scholars that disagree vehemently with the subjugation of women and the endless jihad. By focusing solely on the warts we tend to weaken the prestige of those trying to do better.

What's odd is that such people have copious prestige waiting for them, in the West at least, if and when they speak out publicly and vehemently against utterly horrific incidents like this. It seems to me our society is straining to find moderate voices in Islam.

I would be very interested in reading what these people have to say, and would appreciate links. That is said entirely without snark -- I really would like to get the moderate Islamic perspective on things like this.
12.19.2007 4:04pm
ejo:
while there might be such scholars somewhere out there, they don't seem to represent mainstream Islam nor have any significant influence over the rulers of those countries stuck somewhere in the 7th Century. I can't accept a great groundswell for modernity in the Islamic world when everything I see points in the opposite direction and the religion appears to be devolving.
12.19.2007 4:04pm
SenatorX (mail):
I don't understand why you think people don't get it Oren. "It's not the cat's fault if you leave the meat uncovered" is B.S. logic. It's wife-beater logic, "Don't make me hit you".
12.19.2007 4:19pm
byomtov (mail):
it does seem like a more rational use of time and effort to gripe about people over whom we may have some influence, or with whom we associate ourselves, than it would be to gripe about people we already think ill of and have no influence over.

True. Perhaps we could spare a little outrage for what happened to this rape victim.
12.19.2007 4:21pm
k parker (mail):
Well, I wouldn't describe myself as either a liberal or a leftist, but does that mean I can't stand with Cornellian and "just watchingnnn"? And also with Cornellian's wonderful suggestion about inviting the victim to the US? (Though if her male relatives are trying to kill her, I doubt they'll be willing to give her permission to travel.)
12.19.2007 4:36pm
Catabee (mail):
Oren said: "The key point in all this is the fact that this woman broke the law - it is an unjust law, to be sure, but still a law."

It's not a law I would want my family living under, but why is unjust? Serious question, not snark.
***

just watching666 - there aren't any gays in Iran, remember? Achmindinajad said so.
12.19.2007 5:41pm
Catabee (mail):
Achmadinijad, I meant.
12.19.2007 5:45pm
Oren:

I don't understand why you think people don't get it Oren. "It's not the cat's fault if you leave the meat uncovered" is B.S. logic. It's wife-beater logic, "Don't make me hit you".
I don't believe that the logic is sound but nevertheless, it represents the logic of real-life genuine human beings - an opinion that we may disagree with (quite vehemently) but not one that we can dismiss as irrelevant.

It's not a law I would want my family living under, but why is unjust? Serious question, not snark.
To me, the absolute equality before the law of the genders is a fundamental moral proposition. This is non-negotiable and I cannot condone any social, cultural or religious more that stands in contradiction to it.
12.19.2007 6:59pm
SenatorX (mail):
To me, the absolute equality before the law of the genders is a fundamental moral proposition. This is non-negotiable and I cannot condone any social, cultural or religious more that stands in contradiction to it.

Yeah! Except for the U.S. Military of course. Because when you got to kill some people, morals just get in the way.
12.19.2007 7:29pm
Oren:
Equality before the law does not mean equivalence in every respect.
12.19.2007 7:48pm
SenatorX (mail):
In any case his royalness moved a mottled and leperous fig leaf over the wahhabi shame of Arabia. Our dollar propping and oil for protection racket is brought to the fore with stuff like this. The pressure is to get it off the front page I'm sure.
12.19.2007 9:36pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
SenatorX: Perhaps, but then you'd have to explain why 85% of Saudis thought the original sentence unjust. See here.
12.19.2007 11:50pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
As someone else stated here, we understand the Saudi legal system very well.

We understood the Soviet system, we understood the Nazi system. Not much difference.

Are the Saudis merely 500 years or over 1000 years behind the West? That is what I don't understand.
12.20.2007 11:28am
SenatorX (mail):
I'm just cynical John. I do have hope for all people to throw off nasty yokes that have been put on them. That home internet poll is interesting. I wonder how much exposure to the WWW is affecting things (even with the censorship).
12.20.2007 12:33pm
ohwilleke:
As much as anything, this pardon reminds us of just how absolute monarchical power is in Saudi Arabia. There are only two ways Saudi society can be reformed. From the top, by monarchical decree, or through an illegal and probably violent removal of the entire royal class.

There is no sign that any domestic movement has the wherewithal to accomplish the latter as Saudi Arabia's bread and circuses political system has bought off the masses.

In short, absent something like the transitions to modernity implemented by Attaturk in Turkey, or in Thailand by its monarch, change seems virtually impossible.
12.20.2007 6:49pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Are the Saudis merely 500 years or over 1000 years behind the West?
Which part of the West? The rest of Western Europe and especially the Anglosphere followed a faster track toward representative government and rule of law than the Iberian nations.
12.21.2007 3:57pm