Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lesson: Don't Bite The Hand That Supplies Your Oil

.... or the hand that bankrolls your war.

It is no surprise to anyone who has been watching the Bush Administration that they have very little to say about the Saudi Arabian woman who was gang raped and has not been herself sentenced to imprisonment and 200 lashes. This comes as no more a surprise than the Bush administration's response to the rash of unsafe Chinese imports. Quite simply their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

As reported on Monday by Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States, which wants Saudi Arabia to attend a Middle East conference next week, gave only mild criticism on Monday of a Saudi court's order to double the number of lashings for a gang rape victim.

"This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack when asked to comment on the case.

"That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens," added McCormack.

But McCormack declined to directly criticize its close ally, or the Saudi legal system, which has made a series of erratic verdicts in recent months.

Today Reuters reported:

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing".

The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by seven men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Council increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two and nine years in jail.

BBC News has reported that the young woman's lawyer has stated that his client's current punishment has no basis in Islamic law.

" The woman was initially punished for violating laws on segregation of the sexes - she was in an unrelated man's car at the time of the attack.

When she appealed, judges doubled her sentence, saying she had been trying to use the media to influence them.

Her lawyer has been suspended from the case and faces a disciplinary session."

The Bush Administration is not alone in their hypocrisy. In an article for Independent.ie, Kevin Myers holds the EU just as culpable. He writes:

" There are many questions which result from this story. The first is the one I referred to in the opening paragraph: why is this is not a world-shattering headline?

Of all the stories of abuse, torture and degradation which Islamic societies seem to specialise in, this is surely in a class of its own.

For you can call a 19-year-old a woman if you like, but to my mind, in any society, she is still a girl, and in the enclosed and repressive horror of Saudi Arabia, an utterly inexperienced one.

Rape is always an unspeakable crime, but it varies in extremes, and what happened to her and her friend is just about off the scale. To be sure, whether or not Fatima ( not her actual name ) was a virgin is irrelevant; no amount of sexual experience in any way prepares a woman for such violation.

But in Saudi Arabia, there is this further consequence. Fatima is no longer marriageable: and in married life alone can a Saudi woman find a life.

And now she is to be flogged, 200 times. 200 times.

... unless we stand up for Fatima now, we are mere whores, meekly waiting our turn to be buggered by the rapists of Riyadh."

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