There are some good blurbs in this International Herald Tribune article from November 30th.
I’m not sure what the prince meant by this:
Saudi officials have faced a firestorm of embarrassing international publicity. American presidential candidates decried the sentence on the campaign trail. During the Annapolis summit meeting, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, faced a barrage of questions about the kingdom’s handling of the case. “What is outraging about this case is that it is being used against the Saudi government and people,” he told reporters.
Does he think the case should not be used against the Saudi government and people because it’s not symptomatic of their severely messed-up society, a result of decades of strange-bedfellows agreements between the Saudi ruling family and radical Salafist clerics?
Does he think the rest of the world should stop bringing their preconceived biases to the table and just take for granted that Saudi citizens and residents like things the way they are?
What is outraging about the case to normal people is that a woman’s sentence was harshly increased because her lawyer publicized the case. What kind of stinky judicial system has to be protected from the eyes of the public?
What’s really outraging is that the Saudi Ministry of Justice responded to the international furor by dishonestly accusing the woman of immorality, implying adultery, which carries a death sentence.
In the weeks since the new sentence was announced, government authorities have ordered the rape victim’s lawyer, a well-known human rights activist named Abdulrahman Al-Lahem, to stop talking to the news media, and have also put gag orders on the victim and her husband.
The Saudi Ministry of Justice and two prominent Saudi judges have lashed out against the victim, suggesting that she was engaged in immoral behavior at the time of the assault.
The Justice Ministry published two statements on its Web site on Nov. 20 and 24, 2007, alleging that the rape victim had confessed to engaging in illicit acts and was undressed in a car prior to the rape.
Lahem, the woman’s lawyer, denied these accusations and said that neither she or her male friend had ever confessed to any such acts. The lawyer is now suing the Saudi Ministry of Information and Culture for having distributed the Justice Ministry’s statements to the news media through the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Look at what this sweetheart had to say:
A Saudi judge, Ibrahim bin Salih Al-Khudairi of the Riyadh Appeals Court, said in an interview published in Okaz newspaper on Nov. 27 that if he were a judge in the Qatif court that he would have sentenced her, her male companion and the seven rapists to death and that they should be lucky that they did not get the death penalty.
The Qatif girl said that she was photographed during the rape by one of the men using his cell phone camera. The photos were later entered as evidence in the trial, but the judges refused to consider them.
And the article ends on a hopeful note:
But Bander Alnogaithan, a Saudi who finished Harvard Law School, and lives in Boston, said he was sure her increased punishment would be overturned by a higher court because of a series of errors committed by the lower courts.
Judges violated a basic tenet of Islamic law which prevents harming anyone who files an appeal, an error that Alnogaithan said reflected the poor quality of the religious judges.
“We can’t blame the judges for not knowing the law, as they are picked from Shariah colleges where they mainly focus on general Islamic legal thought and history and don’t study ‘manmade’ laws,” he said.