Barbarism exposed: Saudis are ‘dismayed’
Following reports that a Saudi man is to be beheaded for posting an online video of himself ripping up a Koran and beating the shredded ‘holy’ book with a shoe comes news that officials are ‘surprised’ and ‘dismayed’ by the way in which human rights violations in the kingdom are being highlighted in international media.
Officials, according to this report, are particularly upset by coverage of last year’s sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, above, to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for “insulting Islam”.
The first 50 of Badawi’s lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom’s rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.
Among the latest who criticised the Badawi’s barbaric treatment was German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, above, who – ahead of a meeting with the Saudi King yesterday – described the punishment “unimaginable”.
German news agency DPA quoted Gabriel as saying:
The harshness of this sentence, especially the corporal punishment, is something unimaginable for us, and of course it weighs on our relations.
But Saudi Arabia hit back, saying in a statement that it “expresses its intense surprise and dismay” over international criticism. The statement said that the kingdom:
Does not accept any interference in its internal affairs.
It added that its judiciary is impartial and independent, and pointed out that the kingdom’s constitution, based in Islamic law, ensures human rights.
Activist group Avaaz had organised a protest in front of Berlin’s Tegel airport before Gabriel’s departure on Saturday to the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Protesters handed Gabriel a petition urging him to help secure Badawi’s release and a letter from Badawi’s wife, who lives with their three children in Canada.
Human rights groups argue that the case against Badawi is part of a wider crackdown on freedom of speech and dissent in Saudi Arabia since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake (beheading report).