In Saudi Arabia, a 19-year-old woman is sentenced to 200 lashes. Her crime? She had been sitting alone in a car with a man who was not her husband when the two were abducted and raped by a gang of seven men. Had she not been raped, her "crime" would not have been prosecuted. Were that not obscene enough, now it seems her attorney will lose his law license for handling her defense too aggressively.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali has a powerful op-ed in today's NYT lamenting the lack of public outrage within the Muslim community over clear injustices within the Muslim world.
It is often said that Islam has been "hijacked" by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates.
But where are the moderates? Where are the Muslim voices raised over the terrible injustice of incidents like these? How many Muslims are willing to stand up and say, in the case of the girl from Qatif, that this manner of justice is appalling, brutal and bigoted — and that no matter who said it was the right thing to do, and how long ago it was said, this should no longer be done?
Usually, Muslim groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference are quick to defend any affront to the image of Islam. The organization, which represents 57 Muslim states, sent four ambassadors to the leader of my political party in the Netherlands asking him to expel me from Parliament after I gave a newspaper interview in 2003 noting that by Western standards some of the Prophet Muhammad's behavior would be unconscionable. A few years later, Muslim ambassadors to Denmark protested the cartoons of Muhammad and demanded that their perpetrators be prosecuted.
But while the incidents in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and India have done more to damage the image of Islamic justice than a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, the organizations that lined up to protest the hideous Danish offense to Islam are quiet now. . . .
When a "moderate" Muslim's sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion. Unless that happens much more widely, a moderate Islam will remain wishful thinking.
The AP reports:
A woman sentenced to prison and a public lashing after being gang-raped has been pardoned by the Saudi monarch in a case that sparked an international outcry, including rare criticism from the United States, the kingdom's top ally. . . .
With the pardon, Abdullah appeared to be aiming to relieve the pressure from the United States without being seen to criticize Saudi Arabia's conservative Islamic legal system, a stronghold of powerful clerics of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.
The announcement of Abdullah's pardon was published Monday on the front pages of Al-Jazirah newspaper, which is deemed close to the royal family. But it did not appear in any other local media or the state-run news agency _ in an apparent attempt to play down the case at home.
Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammed al-Sheik defended the courts, saying the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but that he was acting in the "interests of the people." . . .
Amnesty International said the man who was raped received the same sentence as the woman. Al-Jazirah did not mention whether he had been pardoned as well.
The story does not report whether she received her pardon before or after she received the lashes to which she was sentenced.
UPDATE: A commenter notes the Saudi press reports the pardon occurred before any lashes were administered.