The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Cruel and Unusual 

We Saudis notice that you in the West keep bleating on about "cruel and unusual punishments". Usually when some prisoner has been denied access to Cable TV.

Well, we in Saudi Arabia can do "cruel and unusual" much much better. And of course, being good Muslims, we use the Quran to justify it.

First we brought you public beheadings for murder and drug smuggling.

Then we brought you public stonings for adultery.

We even brought you public amputation for stealing.

But you may not have heard this one.

As it says in the Quran, 5.45, "And We prescribed to them in it that life is for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth, and (that there is) reprisal in wounds; but he who foregoes it, it shall be an expiation for him; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unjust."

Now there is a similar passage in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament). However those Jews seem to have forgotten their roots and left it behind, they don't practice it these days.

Not so we Saudis. If it was good enough for our ancestors, it's good enough for us. What has happened in 1400 years that would make us do things differently? It was four wives then, it's four wives now. It was "eye for eye" then, it's "eye for eye" now.

Really? I hear you all gasping at that suggestion. After all, you say, who could be so primitive, so backward? We're not talking about some Amazonian tribe here, we're talking about the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where they have skyscrapers and jet planes and cellphones. A modern country, a member of the World Trade organization, wouldn't practice "eye for eye". Would it?

Yet another eye gouging verdict

EVEN as human rights organizations are fighting to overturn an eye-for-an-eye verdict given against an Indian worker in Dammam, a court in Taif has ordered a Saudi national to be blinded for the loss of vision of a compatriot.

If you are a veteran of this blog, you thought you'd seen everything. Well you haven't. In your case, there is more to see. In the case of three unfortunate gentlemen, there may soon be less to see.

Hamad Muqbil Aal Saad Al-Qahtani .... bought a shop from a man called Khalid Abdul Rehman Al-Sibaeai, but Al-Sibaeai broke the lock and replaced it with another one. During the argument that ensued, Al-Sibaeai tried to stab Al-Qahtani with a knife despite protests from bystanders. Al-Qahtani then threw a screwdriver at Al-Sibaeai in self-defense, hitting him on the face.....Doctors ....confirmed that the victim lost total vision in his left eye due to the injuries he sustained from Al-Qahtani.

So there was a fight between two men and one of them lost the sight in one eye. And it sounds as though both were equally to blame. But the punishment for the one who almost got stabbed until he threw a screwdriver at his assailant was (and you're probably ahead of me by now)

...the verdict was passed on October 19, 2004, to terminate vision in Al-Qahtani's left eye....

That's right, the other guy will have his left eye surgically removed, as his punishment. Well, it says so in the Quran, so it must be OK.

The other case is even more tragic.

The Saudi youth got into an argument with Abdul Lateef Noushad, a 34-year-old (Indian) petrol station attendant in Dammam, which led to a fistfight causing injury to the youth's left eye.

Saudi gas costs about 90 cents a gallon, you wonder why they go to the expense of gas stations to sell it, you should just be able to drive up to a tank and help yourself, it would probably cost less. Anyway, we don't demean ourselves like you Westerners by getting out and filling our own tank, we have someone to do it for us. But no self-respecting Saudi would do that, of course, so we import people from the Indian sub-continent to do it. And with gas at 90 cents a gallon, you can guess how much they are paid. Anyway, the gas station is one of the places where certain Saudi youth, usually those unemployed, feckless, and with little esteem from fellow-Saudis, can demonstrate their cultural sensitivity and interest in the wider world community, in other words to be rude and insulting to "some Indian", and often try to avoid paying their 90 cents per gallon. The said "some Indian" usually puts up with it, but occasionally snaps, so gas station fights are not unusual. In this case the Saudi got the worse of it and lost an eye. The punishment for the Indian?

....a court order in Dammam has been issued to terminate vision of an eye

If you have the money, of course, you can "buy your eye back". (In theory, according to the Quran verse above, the victim is "he who forgoes it". However, and this is not covered in the Quran, he expects a nice pile of money in order to "forgo" it). In one case, the Saudi perpetrator is trying to "buy off" his victim, but is having difficulty getting the cash together.

Negotiations reached a pardon that includes payment of SR7 million, a home and a mosque. The amount was later lowered to SR3.9 million (over a million dollars). The Al-Anzi family is still trying to collect the required amount.

The problem with a public eye removal, it's not much of a public spectacle. No fountain of blood, or bits of brain splattered all over the place. They could play it on one of those big screens in the square, but then it would just look like one of those medical TV programs, it's far too clinical. In medieval Europe they used to tighten a rope round the head with a knot over the eye socket, but we wouldn't do that, we are far too civilized a country.

Anyway, next time one of your prisoners complains about "cruel and unusual" because he's not allowed to keep a pet rabbit, tell him about Saudi Arabia.

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