Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Islamic ruling in Saudi Arabia

In the issue of the Chicago Tribune dated 11/16/07, on page 15, an article appeared titled ‘Rape victim’s sentence: 200 lashes’. The article dealt with a recent Saudi court ruling. The court had sentenced a woman who had been convicted of being in the same car as an unrelated man. "The young woman’s offense was in meeting a former boyfriend, whom she had asked to return pictures he had of her because she was about to marry another man. The couple were sitting in a car when a group of seven men kidnapped them and raped them both." "Lashing is a common sentence under the Saudi penal code. Usually, lashes are meted out in increments because offenders could not survive hundreds of lashes at once."

We must be careful. After all, our legal system can be considered barbaric because we do have the death penalty. I do find it hard to believe that in the 21st century, a country as advanced as Saudi Arabia hands out punishments so backward as whipping. And this is not even the worst of it. The woman is by our standards, the victim. The man she was with was convicted as well, and he received the same sentence as she did. He was a victim as well. True, the attackers received sentences ranging from 10 months to 5 years in prison and 80 to 1000 lashes each.

The violence that results from conviction is designed to make people fearful. It certainly would make us all think carefully before we tried anything of the sort. One of the arguments supportive of Islamic law is that criminal behavior tends to be lower in areas where Islamic law is the law of the land. I can see why. The argument is that this is good because it discourages illegal behavior. I would expect to find this is the case in most police states. Also, this sounds like the end justifies the means.

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