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.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Good to be back.... 

...especially to read this news...

All Charges Against Al-Harbi Dropped

The high school teacher Mohammad Al-Harbi, who was accused of mocking religion and was sentenced to three years in prison and 750 lashes on Nov. 14, has had all charges dropped against him, according to a Saudi security adviser.

I think this is a testament to the power of the Internet, particularly the site that was set up by his supporters. Shine a light onto the "dark corners" and watch the cockroaches scurry away. Thanks to all the readers of this blog who added their names to the petition or made their views known in some other way.

Not only that, but another case surfaced, and an unfortunate victim who had been imprisoned was released. It looks like the government was so embarrassed, that it felt it had to do something.

Another Teacher Gets Royal Pardon

Only a "Pardon", you note, not a reversal of the original stupid sentence.

Al-Suhaimi, a teacher in a Saudi intermediate school, was sentenced to three years in prison and 300 lashes. He was suspended from teaching and was told not to talk to the media. However, he received a royal pardon and was released from Al-Hair Prison in Riyadh last Thursday.

His "crime"?

Al-Suhaimi’s problems began four years ago when he was accused of encouraging his students to indulge in homosexuality and to commit adultery.

That sounds like some zealot's own twisted interpretation of what he was teaching. What did he actually teach? It's a little difficult to get to the bottom of it, but it all sounds dangerously enlightened and "progressive".

According to him, he told his students that love was noble. When one of them asked if love were not all about marriage, Al-Suhaimi replied that in a typical Saudi marriage in which the couple does not know each other before the ceremony, the controlling emotions tend to be amiability and compassion.

That'ts right. It's difficult to get the passions stirring during a 20-minute introductory meeting, which is often all that precedes a Saudi betrothal and marriage.

So who objected to what he said?

Al-Suhaimi’s troubles began with a group of fundamentalist teachers who “believe that if you are not doing exactly as they are and not believing exactly as they do, then you are not a real Muslim.”

Sounds like those Religious Education teachers again.

Teaching civic and sexual behavior to children anywhere, in any school, in any country, is fraught with problems. However, only in Saudi Arabia do you get imprisoned when you get it wrong, in someone else's opinion. However, at least, our sentencing practices are consistent. In both cases it was three years in prison and 300 lashes, give or take a few (and when you're up in the hundreds, who's counting, especially the person dishing them out).

And, funnily enough, three years is also what you get for repeatedly raping a small boy. I suppose three must be an easy number to remember.

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