The Qatif Girl, Again

I honestly did not want to write again about the Qatif Girl case. The last thing this country needs is bad publicity, and as we have seen the so-called Ministry of Justice did not just bring us bad publicity, they also caused a global outrage and tremendous embarrassment to this nation. It wasn’t enough that the ruling was wrong to begin with, they continued to show their incompetency by releasing gibberish statements to justify their ridiculous position.

I think that when MoJ found that their image was badly damaged by this case, they decided that the best way to repair it is by slandering the girl and portray her like a slut who deserved to be raped. How is this supposed to improve their reputation is beyond my comprehension, but let’s wait and see what kind of gems MoJ are still keeping for us.

Two days ago, Shatha Omar on LBC hosted Abdul-Rahman Al Lahim, the girl’s lawyer, to talk about the case. In the opposite direction there was Sheikh Abdul-Mohsen Al Obeikan, an adviser to MoJ and member of the Shoura Council. I was shocked to hear Al Obeikan using certain expressions and words to imply that the girl committed adultery. It was really sickening. Later in the show, there was a call from the girl’s husband who sadly complained that the court did not consider the emotional and psychological state of his wife. “You think I would forgive her if she committed adultery?” he asked. “I’m an Arab man, after all.”

I agree with Al Lahim when he said this ruling sends a strong message to women in Saudi Arabia: don’t seek justice from the legal system, and if you were raped don’t even bother to report it to authorities; you better swallow it and shut up. Moreover, suspending Al Lahim and the statements issued later send a message to the rest of us: don’t even dare to question the judges or criticism the the legal system. But you know what your freakin’ honors? We will not shut up. We will speak up, we will expose your injustice, and we will do our best to ensure that justice and common sense would prevail in the end.

UPDATE: Ibrahim Al Khodhairi, a judge at the appeals court in Riyadh, told Okaz today that the judges in this case should have imposed the death penalty on all the parties involved, including the girl. He also said a lot of nonsense in his interview but I’m not in the mood to deconstruct his statements.

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44 thoughts on “The Qatif Girl, Again

  1. I really feel sorry for all those who have to tolerate that regime. Turkey is one of the few countries with a majority of muslim citizens that has a civilized law, thanks to Ataturk.
    I believe it is an insult to true believers, no matter what religion, to set up a fachist tryranny under the pretense of religion. Just look at countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, they have an absolute ruling class that should have been burried in the Middle ages.
    It is also a crime against humanity that countries such as the US and European Union actively support these countries for their own personal profit.
    If you live in one of the western countries, just imagine yourself having to live in one of those countries then think hard about what you can do to influence your governments to lead the way on a path that will take all humanity to a more civilized and free world.
    Yes, this hard for those governments to comprehend but if things progress as they do now, we will be heading towards an apocalypse, have no doubt about it.

  2. @ Turkish Citizen:
    I am in one of those western countries (UK). Don’t assume that democracy solves all problems, it is by no means perfect, and creates plenty of problems on its own.

    There is actually very little that citizens of a western country can do to move any other coutries stance on political systems.
    Thats not to say I like dictatorships, I don’t, but I’m also aware that the only way to *force* a change on others is through war, and that is not somewhere that anyone wants to go.

  3. Allah yuqawika ya ahmad.

    For Turkish Citizen: I think you misunderstand politics. When the West opposes an unjust country (like Iraq) we are called imperialistis and colonialists. When we work with them and try to slowly influence them to change (like KSA) we are accused of being supporters of such gross injustice.

    I think it’s time for Muslims around the world to wake up and start asking questions about responsibility. A child blames everyone else for his problems, and that, in my opinion, is the state of much of the umma today.

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Abu Daoud! Muslims have to awaken from the slumber they have been in since the fall of the ottoman empire. Saudi Arabia is a backwater state ruled by greed, intolernce and darkness. Coming into the light will be difficult for them but the awakening must happen! The middle east is vastly laughable and is being left behind, actually it is even worse then that… to be left behind one must be even considered, the Arabs are not even able to achieve that! They are all but forgotten… they can build all the towers and glittering beaches that they want, their ignorance will never allow a true advance. Israel and the West is not the cause of our disgraceful demise, they relish in it, benefit from it but are not the sustainers of it.

    The Arabs of Al Jahilyah, left almost nothing in writing. No national epic was ever developed by the Arabians and no dramatic work of first-class importance. This is in unfavourable contrast to the Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians or the Egyptians who had a much more advanced literary, written and oral traditions; the Arabs on the other hand had mostly their oral one. They were the least literate among the peoples of the Middle East. Their language was their greatest legacy.

    How does this differ from today?
    I guess we will always have falafel ;)

  5. Not just don’t report rape, but it gives a green light to guys who want to rape who they see as behaving immorally. They can be the judge and punisher of such women, even as a gang and no problemo really. And never mind a woman reporting rape here much anymore, not that they do anyway.

    Of course that a woman was ‘out alone’ only seeks to further restrict the movement of women. I would hope somewhere in this government there is a voice of sanity, but I surely won’t hold my breath on it.

  6. this case had global coverage and popularity especially after the appeal which by no means could happen anywhere else but here in Saudi Arabia..

    what sucks most, they think they are Islam defenders and judges who nobody can criticize their rulings because “It’s the Islam rulings, not ours”…

    this case also demonstrate the corruption of MoJ and miserable women rights in KSA …

    i think racial factors have some something to do in this case as well, not to mention the heavy sentences which have been applied in minor similar cases such as “Annahdah tunnel” and many others…

    I think we should thanx Al lahim and the girl’s husband who have been facing torrential campaign of offensives day by day …

  7. It’s about time a female speak up of being brutally victimized and demoralized. There don’t seem to be checks and balances and in place with these judges. Who overlooks their actions? Do they pray to Allah for ‘wisdom’ before making a decision? It’s about time OLD TRIBAL rules and laws be removed from ISLAM. These ‘men’ seem to forget that when their mothers were expecting them, they were fed from her umbilical cord, then breast fed and then the most beautiful eyes they could contemplate while babies was their mothers…In the Latin American countries women are loved and respected for being ‘mothers’, sisters, wives, daughters–in other words they’re JUST AS (((HUMAN))) AS MAN and no less! Where would man be without woman? (I mean besides the fact you can’t live with them or without them)

  8. Is it possible to get a translation of what that judge said for us who don’t speak the language?

    I ran it through google translator but I don’t think that is the most reliable of sources.

  9. I’ll give my different view to the story, if I may!.

    This case reflects so many things including, but not limited to, 1) the problem of not having clear punishements for specific illegal acts in Saudi Arabia so judges can come up with their own ruleing based on what they think and feel and not based on specific written laws, 2) the lack of transperancy and reasonable info sharing with the public, 3) the continuing social fear of reporting anything that relates to women abuse cases in Saudi Arabia (human rights abuse in general) and 4)the fact that people in many cases get their stand based on insufficient information.

    My main problem with this case is the fact that the Prosecution of two cases in one case, the first case is the rape of the girl by 7 men, while the second case is the “khulwa” issue. The two cases for me has no relationship and should not been linked by any mean. However, the judge did look at them in the same time and issue ruling on both cases which by a mean or another links both cases and makes a cause-and-effect relationship. So the subconscious of youth in the country can get the following message “if you get to be in a khulwa with a female (or find her doing so with some other male), you can look at her as a potential target of your sick sexual desire since she is doing something haram!”.

    Other than that, I believe lots of the comments on the issue were based on insufficient informatoin.

  10. @Kirrus, I know all about western democracy, I’ve spent a good deal of my life in Europe and the US. I’m also fortunate enough to be Turkish, which despite some shortcomings, still has a democratic regime as opposed to a religious dictatorship.
    With all respect to true believers, just as they have all the right in the world to practice their religion, I have an equal right to demand not to be governed by religious laws. That is what Ataturk provided to us when he based the modern state of Turkey on secularism. The sultan of the Ottoman Empire was also the head of the Islam world, he was the calif. Theoretically, the caliphate is still in Turkey, that is the sword of the prophet Mohammed. In the past the Saudi family had offered an enormous amount of money to buy that sword which Turkey refused for good reason.
    Now, the simple fact is, just as everyone should have the right to practice their religion, equally others should have the choice to be not governed by religious laws. What the western countries fail to realize is that this creates a conflict for fundamentalist islamists. They are bound by the Koran to live by its rules and spread the religion, a compromise is not possible for them. Until a new interpretation can be brought to Koran (the thought alone can be considered blasphemous for these fundamentalists) there is no solution for peaceful coexistance.
    Turkey is the only country which has been able to achive that and it pains me to see that the US and the EU are more than happy to push Turkey into becoming a “moderate islamic” country, which makes just as much sense as being “moderately pregnant”.

  11. I agree with a couple points of view:
    I don’t want to stir up prejudice against Arabs in my country, but I do think it is wrong to enrich the oppressive regimes.
    I am proposing a “Walk for Women” campaign–which simply means walk whenever you can instead of driving.
    I also think there must be some Islamic scholars who can explain that it is surely blasphemy to interpret the Koran in such a way as to punish victims of a brutal crime. God or his prophet would not teach such a thing.
    There is a passage in the Bible that says, “Because of you, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” I believe that those who teach that this is a proper interpretations of Islam are guilty of the same crime.

  12. Has the raped woman been able to speak out on her behalf in any forum? Are there any even fledgling women’s groups in the KSA that are taking up her cause?

    As an American following this case, I am especially appalled that the U.S. government refuses to condemn the Saudi MoJ’s ruling and appealed decision. What use is a U.S. government that supposedly works for freedom and equality if it’s not willing to use its influence to speak out against an obviously gross injustice?

  13. I have to say I admire you Ahmed for speaking up about this case. It is a global one. We even discuss it here at work. I am terribly sadden by the state of affairs regarding the justice system in Saudi with this women and countless other cases that slip through the cracks of the legal system. I appalud the husband for standing by his wife and for the lawyer for standing for what is right. God bless them.

  14. I AGREE a walk for women campagin WOULD get the world’s attention (& HOPEFULLY remain there). I would love to see the women coming out in throngs in Saudi peacefully marching and wow even chanting, praying, singing praising the glory of being a woman! That would be totally awesome!! I HOPE it happens!!!!!! :^)

  15. marianna it’d be great, but we arent allowed to come out and rally here in saudi..it sucks big time. I keep telling people if you want to know what Islam is , dont look at saudi arabia as an example, go read the Qur’an.

  16. your right marianna, the woman’s husband really stood by her..and they didnt even consummate the marriage yet! how sweet of him. May God make it easy for them! Ameen. thumma Ameen!

  17. I know there is an organization of Muslim women from different backgrounds and countries who have united and at this moment are putting letters together to write to the ambassador and consulate offices where they live…AND they’re taking it to the UN.

  18. That what makes me feel uncomfort being in Riyadh and in Saudi at most.

    You can’t trust the law in there to protect you. You must always pay some bribe money when dealing with government administration. Many people don’t feel ashamed of doing sexual harassment even to men (homosexual). And I once saw a religious police beat up an abaya woman with a stick! And you must be careful not to talk with a woman on the street, unless you’re in your embassy.

    Saudi Arabia is a scarry country. Real scarry. You don’t wanna deal with these people.
    I’m muslim man but I don’t regard Saudis as muslims, I think they’re somekinda satanic worshiper.

  19. Ahmed, goog for you and other Saudis to not let them shut you up. I know how frustrating it can be to speak out against stupidity especially if that is accompanied by terror (because that is how I see the ‘measurements’ of the Saudi court in this case). Therefore, kudos for you and others who aren’t let them going to scare you off.
    I still hope this girl will get out of this “midnight express” and get the time to start healing from the hurt conflicted upon her.

  20. I’m shocked, what kind of justice is this? what kind of minds would conclude that a girl who was RAPED should be killed too?!!!!!! the devil himself can’t justify such a verdict.

    How can these people live with themselves?!

  21. I think because of the way there is a strict separaton of the genders there beating up women (via the muttawa) and the rape of this woman and her companion kind of shows the stress Saudi society is currently under. Some of the people will act out in such ways as mentioned on these comments. When you start to examine the human psyche and the mental stress that can come about from living this way…knowing most of the world does not and that even some Gulf countries are less strict with the way the women are allowed to live (i.e. in Oman they can drive)…etc…it all adds up to explosions such as this.

  22. that’s true..even bahrain which is just 1 hr from my city in saudi is so different. it’s the strict rules..the extremism. the nore you restrict people, the more they rebel. It’s the thing Islam warns abt..abt going to extreme. its just so sad…

  23. I agree, it is a form of extremism because I fail to see how God would permit this kind of behavior on half of the world’s population and women are so beautiful in many man ways…spiritually, they are wonderful nuturers…givers of life and of spirit…just sad because they offer so very much to society. And the husband of this woman is marvellous with the way he has stood by his wife. I admire his fortitude and courage.

  24. ” the West is not the cause of our disgraceful demise, they relish in it, benefit from it but are not the sustainers of it.”____The West does not relish or benefit from the problems of Arab countries. We would much prefer them all to be modern democracies, with freedom of speech and religion, like any European country today. (And not like European countries 700 years ago.) We would like people of any religion, or none, to feel free and not under pressure anywhere.

  25. Meg: Yes, Qatif Girl’s male companion, whom it is claimed was also assaulted, was originally sentenced to 90 lashes (the original punishment meted out to Qatif Girl). He did not appeal the sentence, however, so the court had no reason or way to increase his punishment.

    Remember, too, that no charge of rape was levied against the attackers. Qatif Girl and her attorney believed that in bringing the case, four months after the fact, they could not prove rape. Exactly what the seven miscreants were charged with is still unclear, but it was not rape.

  26. Ahmed,

    You are from the EP. Are you hearing anything different there in regards to views and perspectives on this case? I just returned from some time in the EP and was surprised that those whom I spoke to in regards to this case had much differing views and were adamant that the international press do not have all the facts. According to at least some EP residents, the Saudi courts were “trying to protect” the girl from having the true facts come out which are alledgedly quite damning to her and her character.

    Is this another attempt at spin control? Or is there some grain of truth in these revelations?

    American Bedu

  27. American Bedu:

    I am not from Saudi Arabia and it seems the point of the international community is not getting across—the rape victim’s character cannot be put on trial. It not only degrades him/her more, it gives rapists an incentive to blame the victim which results in an even more deadly spiral of violence for other victims.

    The revulsion over this case has been increased by the justice department’s use of innuendo and smear tactics. “She called it on herself” is not a defense regardless of her character. And depriving her of legal counsel during the appeal and punishing her and her counsel for speaking out goes against all sense of justice.

    What her neighbors think of her does not affect my outrage at the sentence at all. Coming from a conservative country I know how admitting to being raped automatically destroys a woman’s character and keeps women from reporting sexual violence.

    I am not impressed by whisper campaigns against a rape victim’s character.
    .
    Smearing the rape victim’s character seems to be standard procedure in countries like Saudi Arabia and Dubai (as shown in the Dubai rape trial going on right now).

    However, that strategy has long fallen into disrepute for very good reason in other countries and I for one find it repulsive. As we are seeing in this case, the woman was gang-raped by 7 thugs. Now she is being raped by her society.

  28. Olivetheoil,

    I welcome you to also view my blog: http://delhi4cats.wordpress.com where I also wrote views (quite similar to yours in fact) about this incident. (Kingdom of Humanity: Qatif Girl)

    However as one living in the Kingdom and for others following international events it is also important to solicit all views and perspectives, especially essential in a place like the Kingdom in trying to understand the convoluted nuances of the culture.

    American Bedu

  29. This ruling is another slap on the face of so called Ministry of Justice (injustice). Being a recent convert, I feel that these followers of islam should read their history carefully. The person(s) who commits Zina Bil Jabr (rape) should be sentenced to stonning. We can debate on this issue how that can be possible if there are no witnesses, but in Qatif Girl’s case, because all the seven men accepted their crime, there is no reason to punish them with only lashes.
    In the history books (leading ones) and the Hadith books (Six leading ones), there is no reference or ruling by any of the four caliph who punished the female victim because she was forcefully raped. I challenge all my brothers to show me even a single jurisprudence in any worthy book which can justify what these mutawas (religous scholars) are doing in the case of Qatif Girl. Most of these mutawas are totally blindfolded by the reading they have done throughout their life. I seriously think that Ministry of Justice in Saudi Arabia should take out the element of tribal cultral practices which have no roots in islamic laws. Dont make us and our religion a laughing stock. If you are the custodians of Ka’aba. Be the true custodian of Justice.

  30. @Don Cox, I am not a US citizen and I am not Arab, therefore I think I have a relatively objective view regarding the attitude of the western countries towards third world countries. Although they may not actively be the cause of some of these horrific tribal customs, they nevertheless turn a blind eye on such practices for the sole reason that it suits them economically. Always easier to convince a tribal chief than a nationally elected parliament.
    Just support the Saudi tribal chief, get all the oil you want, in return keep quiet an let him stay in power. Simple as that…

  31. The story of the incident:

    The woman was married and having an affair with another man. They were having sex on the beach at night when a group of men approached them and caught them in the act. They attacked the man and raped her. No body knew about it until her husband found out a couple of months later from an anonymous caller. That’s when he confronted her and when she admitted to him it was true, he went to the police and filed a complaint against her and the others. Justice procedures took place as they would do in any other case. My heart goes to the poor husband who had a cheating wife who had no respect for her family nor for herself, and I hope she did not bring her husband or herself a sexual tansmitted disease like AIDS!

  32. Turkish Citizen,
    why in Turkey they harass women just because they cover their heads (wear hijab)?
    You should not talk about Turkey fondly and ask it to stop the ethnic cleansing it is carrying against Kurds as it did to arabs an armenians in the past.
    If your country is that modern and great why are you begging to be apart of the EU and are rejected over and over, I see no self respect!That’s the humilation Ataturk brought for Turkey, from being the head of the Islamic world to the tail of European world!
    You wanna be EU citizen instead of Turkish citizen, what a shame!

  33. someguy@indonesia,
    why you don’t have to stay in Saudi Arabia, You can go home and stop the suffering. Run for your life, run!

  34. someguy@indonesia
    aka (Mr. look at me I’ve made cool statement)

    We aren’t satanic worshiper !!!!!

    There are lots of people in Saudi who are very liberal or just normal but not conservatively strict

    and YES i believe we have a corruption in Saudi Arabia but no one would take a bribe !

    Lastly, please don’t think that i agree with what happened to the girl!!

  35. Turkish Citizen, you are spot-on when you observe that “[a]lthough they may not actively be the cause of some of these horrific tribal customs, they nevertheless turn a blind eye on such practices for the sole reason that it suits them economically.”

    As an American citizen, do I want to believe that we do work to promote liberty worldwide? I do indeed. However, can I ask the rest of the world to believe that when I keep running into embarassing evidence of policy to the contrary?

    According to the 2006 International Religious Freedom Report released by the United States’ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, makes note of Eritrea being the recipient of continued applied sanctions under the Arms Export Control Act. Meawhile, “in September 2005 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-designated Saudi Arabia as a CPC [Country of Particular Concern], and the Government was issued a waiver of sanctions ‘to further the purposes of the Act.'”

    I don’t count that as any kind of stand on the stated principles I cherish. Matter of fact, the colloquilaism “pussy out” readily suggests itself instead.

    What else is predominant in the world’s attention? The US’ aid and support for Pakistan’s Musharraf despite his undercutting of judicial review, correct? Is it not also correct that it is a secular regime that STILL has capital blasphemy laws in effect (Section 295-C)? What of our efforts to change that? Is it possible that the United States’ current administration applied behind-the-scenes pressure to at least prompt Musharraf to step down from his offical post as general? Yes, I concede the possibility, but we can’t tell. I am asking for our pressures to be not so invisible. We can’t see statecraft in action when it comes to our reputation any more than the rest of the world can.

    China? We bent over backwards to give them a Most Favored Nation trading partner status beofre their induction into the WTO, and still the circulation of the iconic image a lone protestor facing down a tank is a jailable offense, as is forming labor unions and reporting on anything that could embarass The State.

    I’m through accepting that engagement produces favorable results in the pursuit of liberty and accountability. Furthermore, I’m also through accepting that we can deploy our troops abroad in the explicit name of defending others’ freedoms without asking of our own citizenry certain sacrifices of comfort that pales in shameful comparison to the possible sacrifice of life and limb. If it means alarming increases in oil prices and the cost of manufactured products, and the resulatant complications, then we either need to say so be it or to not be surprised when we are not believed, even by ourselves.

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