Following the Pardon

The Qatif Girl – and her male friend – have received a pardon from King Abdullah, as I posted yesterday. I have to add that I got the word about two weeks ago from sources close to the matter that the girl would be pardoned, but I decided to withhold that piece of information because I thought the pardon won’t be announced until Eid Al Adha as it is customary for the King to issue a general pardon on similar occasions.

The reactions to the pardon have been mixed. For my part, as the New York Times said, I was relieved that the sentence won’t be carried out, but what I have not said in my earlier post is that I was disturbed by the statements of the minister of justice which came out with the news of the pardon. The minister insisted the pardon was not issued because the sentence was unjust, but simply because it was in the interest of the greater good. These statements made it look as if there was nothing wrong with the brutal sentence and the King decided to pardon the girl because of international pressure. I believe that if the King saw nothing wrong with the trial then he would have let the victim appeal and go with the case to the higher court, and then, after all appeals have been exhausted, he would interfere to spare her the suffering.

However, Abu Joori and others pointed out that this is not the end, because there are other injustices still taking place in the Saudi courts. I agree. The Qatif Girl was lucky to have a supporting husband and a courageous lawyer, something that many others probably don’t have, but the big publicity this case received would contribute to shed more light on the state of the legal system and bootstrap the the reforms announced in October.

This case has caused a tremendous embarrassment to the country, but I don’t think the King pardoned the victims just because he wanted to silence the critics. At the same time that I and others were expressing our relief, the extremists here were lashing out saying the pardon would encourage more people to question the rulings of the courts, a sin in their eyes because they believe judges are holy figures who should not be touched.

Much respect to the brave lawyer Abdul-Rahman Al Lahem for his courage and patience. I still remember when someone called in on a TV show and accused him of taking the case because he was after fame. “I don’t mind becoming famous for doing the right thing,” Al Lahem responded. Much respect to the girl’s husband for standing by his wife like a real man. Thank you to all the people who supported this case on blogs, internet forums and the international media. And finally, a short message to the local media: shame on you for ignoring this case; once again you prove that you are such a waste of time and money.

UPDATE: According to Arab News, the official pardon which was released late Monday night by the king said that the Qatif Girl had been subjected to “a brutal crime”. The pardon continued to say that the pardon was “because the woman and the man who was with her were subject to torture and stubbornness that is considered in itself sufficient in disciplining both of them and to learn from the lesson.” The king also ordered the Ministry of Justice to give the rapists the strictest sentence possible for their crime.

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28 thoughts on “Following the Pardon

  1. It was indeed good news about the pardon, but the language of it made clear that it was more a matter of political expediency, rather than correcting an injustice (though I think the King recognizes the injustice privately).

    Kudos to all involved, especially the extremely brave Abdul-Rahman Al Lahim. Hopefully, this will encourage others to go public with the appalling lack of basic women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. It takes nothing away from anyone’s culture to protect women from injurious criminal behavior.

  2. Thanks Ahmed for pointing out the role of Abdul-Rahman Al Lahim. I think in a country where most of our heroes are footballers, it is great to see a lawyer fighting for justice receive recognition by the media.

    His fame will serve the country well as it puts the the legal system issues into public debate.

  3. While I am unhappy at the language of the pardon too, I think it is also an encouraging message for those who were too afraid to question the courts. It seems clear that the extremist attempt to intimidate her into silence by increasing the sentence and smearing her name backfired badly for them.

    Let’s face it, despite their efforts, she is the one walking away with her dignity intact in the eyes of the world. Despite the language of the pardon, the judiciary took it on the chin on this round.

    Maybe next time cooler heads will realize that passing an honest equitable judgment would be a better way to earn the world’s respect than flexing their muscles. I have a feeling the next time a judge thinks about passing a similar sentence, he will be considering very carefully if he is creating another Qatif Girl.

    At least I hope so!

  4. I am so relieved the attorney is getting his license back…the world needs more people like him to stand up for what is right. And we have to remember the law should be fair to all parties involved, and there is but only ONE God, and everybody else is only human and prone to human error and being swayed. Remember the whole Catholic priests thing? Unsupervised power is dangerous in anybody’s hands.

  5. ne0bi0: According to a recent poll, 85% of Saudis were unhappy with the verdict.

    I think the judge who was quoted as saying the girl deserved the death penalty got it right between the eyes with the pardon. Its very existence humiliates the Ministry of Justice and the Sharia courts, at least those in the EP.

  6. We also wish to see you practicing justice your self by exposing the cruel and unfair treatment of women within your own shiia community and all the ugly and unfair religious decrees issued by the ‘holly’ shiia ayatollahs that make the lives of women, young girls and even men a living hell.

    I presonally find it to be really strange that a ‘libral’ blogger like yourself never speaks against such practices and decrees within his own community while spending almost all of his time going after the religious decrees and practices of the rivaling community! I find it very difficult to believe that such practice’s accidental or purely innocent.

    Some say that’s a sign of you being a ‘hateful sectarian’ and not really a libral and that you are using liberalism as a tool in your sectarian struggle. To be honest with you, i sometimes find that explantion to be a logical and valid one since we see no criticism what so ever of the ayatollahs or of any social or religious pracice within your own shiaa community at all. In fact, we found some indirect praising of the ayatollahs!

    We hope to see changes in this blog too.

  7. My community is the Saudi community, and when I talk about issues in this community I don’t exclude Shiites from these issues. I think that the challenges Shiites here have to deal with are not all that different from the challenges the rest our countrymen and women face.

    I find it ironic to be accused of sectarianism when I try my best to focus on issues that concern all Saudis regardless of their backgrounds, especially when these accusations come in a context where I seem to be seen as a Shiite before being a Saudi. It is very unfortunate that some are not able to see anything on this blog until they pass it through the ‘sect’ filter.

  8. “Sects” don’t matter…there is but ONLY ONE GOD! If we all practice what the true faith teaches, we’ll all learn to respect each other. But respect is learned in the home, where society learns to live with each other first. Or rather “Charity of the heart” begins in the home.

    A beautiful, meaningful and peaceful EID to all.

  9. I dont know if its justice served or she is just lucky..I had a feeling our King would make this announcement..I admire her family’s commitment..But Iam wondering whether they will release her soon…..

  10. Achmed, I’ve read quite lot of your blog, but have completely missed all your ”sectarianisms”. I think everything is well written and balanced. Perhaps you should add another category.

  11. Thanks for the update on this – I was a little confused to see your previous post that justice and common sense prevailed in this case after having read elsewhere that the King was not saying that the court was wrong – this clarified.

    Anyway – Eid Mubarak!

  12. I am happy the girl has got the pardon. It shows that the King is aware of the furore caused by the verdict. i hope he intervenes again and again in similar and other worthy cases.

  13. Achmed, you’ve been shown on CNN again, also respondand abujoori, complete with picture. Nice long shot too. Wish you all the best, I hope neither of you’ll get into trouble over this.

  14. She should of recieved the punishment for being in seclusion with a man who was not her husband and she’s married too….the shee’aa from areas like iran and iraaq (the rawafidh) are kufaar(non-muslims)…..anyone who calls aiesha (the wife of the prophet) a whore and calls abu bakr and umar pagan idols and uthman a homosexual…is not a muslim…The concensus of scholars have agreed upon this……….Now what the hell do you wanna do sweep that under the rug in 2007??????? Unlissted2007

  15. I heard myself gasp when I read your post about the pardon.
    At last, atleast, justice, though incomplete, for one woman.
    May justice be served to everyone, regardless of gender, in it’s own time.

  16. Oh, how refreshing! Just as I was going to feel all rosy and respectful about Saudis, seeing how there are so many intelligent and worthwhile bloggers on the net, a call back to reality by the murky side of unlissted darkness!

    Although not written in an understandable or even literate manner.

    Or am I being paranoia and stupid and Unlissted is merely writing an amusing and ironic spoof and I just didn’t get it?
    I am new to the blogworld

  17. The difficulty with sites such as this is that “Unlissted” (sic) is the real voice of Saudi Arabia. As much as we’d like to think of this blog as representing Saudis, it’s really a reflection of only a small educated fraction of the country. Most support Shari’ah law and all of its neanderthal requirements, such as not allowing women to leave the house without a husband or brother. What a 12th century attitude! The fact that your king has to step in and prevent a rape victim from being beaten by the state speaks volumes – Saudi Arabia is stuck in the dark ages and has a far way to go to even be considered “backward.”

  18. Yeah, just finished reading the complete Religious Policeman’s blog.
    Nearly fell off my chair laughing a couple of times. But àm I glad to have been born in the Netherlands.

    I always thought Arab men must be complete losers to need these laws to keep women under control. Bit like East Germany, putting up the Iron Curtain: ”To keep people suffering from Western Europe’s Kapitalist Regimes, from invading the Communist Paradise.”
    Right, like everyone believed that one.

    So thumbs up Saudi Jeans! You are a shining jewel in the murky depths of misogeny and evil. And it gives one a positive feeling about the future and the world in general: apparently it is always possible, even in the most repressive distopia, to see universal truth and formulate your own intelligent thoughts.

    And I put this without meaning that anybody should in any way ever change their own traditions, culture and religious believes.

  19. The Rights of Woman
    Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!
    Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest;
    O born to rule in partial Law’s despite,
    Resume thy native empire o’er the breast!

    Go forth arrayed in panoply divine;
    That angel pureness which admits no stain;
    Go, bid proud Man his boasted rule resign,
    And kiss the golden scepter of thy reign.

    Go, gird thyself with grace; collect thy store
    Of bright artillery glancing from afar;
    Soft melting tones thy thundering cannon’s roar,
    Blushes and fears thy magazine of war.

    Thy rights are empire: urge no meaner claim,—
    Felt, not defined, and if debated, lost;
    Like sacred mysteries, which withheld from fame,
    Shunning discussion, are revered the most.

    Try all that wit and art suggest to bend
    Of thy imperial foe the stubborn knee;
    Make treacherous Man thy subject, not thy friend;
    Thou mayst command, but never canst be free.

    Awe the licentious, and restrain the rude;
    Soften the sullen, clear the cloudy brow:
    Be, more than princes’ gifts, thy favors sued;—
    She hazards all, who will the least allow.

    But hope not, courted idol of mankind,
    On this proud eminence secure to stay;
    Subduing and subdued, thou soon shalt find
    Thy coldness soften, and thy pride give way.

    Then, then, abandon each ambitious thought,
    Conquest or rule thy heart shall feebly move,
    In Nature’s school, by her soft maxims taught,
    That separate rights are lost in mutual love.

  20. Has anyone hears about the fate of Fawzi Falih, the woman accused of witchcraft in Saudi Arabia? The case was covered by the BBC I February of 2008. But I have not heard of what became of her, AND IF THERE IS ANYTHING MORE WE CAN DO TO HELP?
    I am trying to get organizations and the media involved in actively demanding her release.
    Please see the following website petition and article
    You may also write the King of Saudi Arabia as well via the embassy
    At info@saudiembassy.net

    http://www.petitiononline.com/AIDFAWZA/petition.html

    Thanks you.
    Dr Whimsy Anderson ND

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