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, August 12, 2005

The "Khamis Mushayt Girl" Drama nears its conclusion..... 

....tragic or otherwise.

‘Khamis Mushayt Girl’ Faces Execution

The 26-year-old mother of three, called the ‘Khamis Mushayt Girl’, convicted of murdering a man six years ago is scheduled to be executed next Thursday after the slain man’s family failed to attend the meeting set up by tribal leaders in Asir to talk about a possible last-minute pardon.
Saudi executions are invariably grisly. This one promises to exceed all previous records.

The details are uncertain, because all Saudi trials are conducted in secret, without reporters, and without independent defense lawyers, so there's no-one around to give an objective account. She apparently killed a man who had attempted to have sex with her. Perhaps he was an attempted rapist who got more than he bargained for. Perhaps he was someone she had been seeing, which would have been against all social and religious norms, and wouldn't have helped her case in such a male-dominated system. Perhaps she just went out and killed an innocent man. As I say, we'll never see the transcript, so we'll never know.

She was sentenced to death, but sentence was postponed for five years, presumably because her children were dependent on her. Where the father was or is, we don't know (but his absence won't have helped her case). Her only hope now is that the family of the dead man will forgive her, in which case she won't be executed, but will be imprisoned and have to pay "blood money" instead. However for all these years they have refused to do so. Next Thursday, August 18th, is the date set for the execution. This one promises to be the grisliest Saudi execution spectacular of all time.

Personally I don't have a problem with the death sentence, in principle. However in practice too many innocent people have died all over the world from miscarriages of justice followed by the death penalty. I would like to see its use restricted to crimes of murder, where there was DNA or other totally incontravertible evidence. Others, I know, disagree in principle, and I can respect that. However I don't believe that the death sentence as such is the problem here.

I also have no problem with a pardon issued by the family who forgive the perpetratator. It is perhaps the point where the Islam and Christian religions come closest together. In both cases, forgiveness brings spiritual benefits, but in Islam's case, forgiveness also has a more practical result.

The big problem is, of course, the public execution. Next Thursday it will no doubt take place outside the major mosque in Asir, after midday prayers. Now there will be tremendous pressure on the dead man's family to forgive her, possibly including visits by princes and regional governors. They could pardon her at any time up to the moment when the executioner raises his sword. So you can guarantee that with all this public interest, the place will look like a soccer cup final, from young children thru to old grannies. Either way it's high drama for the audience; there may be a pardon and tearful reconciliation, or else a swift and bloody conclusion. There'll be no chance for a dignified end for the young lady concerned, in some quiet corner of a prison. This one is played out in full public view. What is even worse these days, the combination of Saudi medieval brutality with 21st century technology means that there'll be lots of mpgs's in circulation from cameras and camera phones. There's a thought next time they broadcast one of those commercials on TV showing what a modern and civilized place Saudi Arabia is.

Let's hope the family relent. It's obviously difficult to forgive, but bitterness and resentment are the acid that dissolves our souls.

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