Nothing bristle’s the hairs on the back of my neck to stiffen quicker than an oppressive dictatorship demanding the people within a democracy shut up and stop questioning the way they torture and execute their people.
That is exactly what Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom indicated in an article published in the Daily Telegraph today.
He said “The Kingdom has always had to deal with a lack of understanding and misconceptions” – and I don’t doubt that for one moment. Maybe it is our lack of understanding about how a teenage boy could be found guilty of taking part in a demonstration that resulted in him being sentenced to death by beheading – followed by the very 21st century punishment of crucifixion??? Or, an elderly man being thrown in prison for more than 12 months – with the prospect of being lashed – just for having wine in his car? (I understand the punishment wouldn’t of been carried out – but only at the whim of the Saudi Royal family – if they had decided otherwise the punishment would have been given).
So, go on Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz – correct my ‘mis-understanding’. Re-adjust my ‘misconception’ of the dictatorship you speak for – by explaining how in just these two cases – you can claim a reasonable sentence and a just outcome. And if Sharia Law is from God – how can the Saudi King grant pardons and stay of executions? Is he above God? Is he equal to God? Does the Saudi Royal family have the power to tell God that – ‘actually, we disagree with you on this one God – maybe next time you’ll get it right’?
To be fair on the Saudi Ambassador – he does try and explain things a little when he says “Our justice system is based on Sharia law and implemented by our independent judiciary”. But the truth is, his claim to divine inspiration for this system of ‘justice’ – is a mask which allows the Saudi’s full control over the laws which are imposed on their people.
Why, for example – do they deny women the right to drive? And, if this is an explicit rule from God – why doesn’t every country insist on this? If there is only one God – why must he enforce this law in Saudi Arabia – but not even consider it an issue worth discussion in countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or America? Is He a ‘lazy’ God? Maybe the people of Saudi Arabia are just so bad under the rule of the Royal family, God doesn’t have time to check the rest of the world to see if they are also stopping their women from driving or even worse – mixing with men? Oh yes, I forget – this must be the “lack of understanding and misconceptions” Mohammed bin Abdulaziz speaks of.
But then, the more I think about this subject the more I get confused. If all of these laws from God must be enforced in Saudi Arabia – why does the Saudi Royal family not stay away from countries like America or the UK – and all our un-godly laws – which treat women equally and allow them the freedom to decide whether they wish to drive? Where woman mix freely with men and decide whether or not to use public transport and be seen out alone?
Why would anyone from the Saudi Royal family want to visit London? Why frequent the fashionable hotels, restaurants and jewelry shops – where alcohol is served and drunk in large quantities; women mix freely with men – men who can marry other men if they choose? Why do Saudi Princes snap up expensive London apartments and drive their luxury cars around our ungodly streets? Is it because they too enjoy getting out of the Kingdom and enjoying the freedoms that living in a democracy provides. Some in the Saudi Royal family even take it to extremes, as was demonstrated recently in America when the Saudi Prince Majed Abdulaziz al-Saud was arrested on suspicion of ‘forced oral copulation of an adult’ and was later accused of snorting cocaine, getting drunk, enjoying gay sex and arranging for escorts to come to his home. Even us ‘ungodly westerners’ were shocked by many of the revelations that emerged and we wouldn’t dream of doing half the stuff that this Saudi Prince indulged in.
It turns out he was only arrested when his behavior become so abusive – that those who worked for him fled in fear of their lives and reported him to the police. Luckily for this Prince – the long arm of the Western law – doesn’t lead to a shortening of his.
And that brings me back to this article in the Daily Telegraph by Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz. Our democracy isn’t perfect by any means and we don’t demand that the Saudi’s adopt our laws or change thier God. What we say is you should respect the rights of human life – men AND WOMEN; do not use your wealth and power to subdue those under your care and STOP the barbaric and hideous tortures, lashings and executions – that you do in the name of religion. Men , women and children deserve BETTER.
And finally – do not think to tell the people who live in an open democracy – NOT to criticise you or your regime – because you spend lots of money on us. You have been lucky enough to live above oil reserves – which has made you and a small group of your extended family very, very very rich.
Just because you are wealthy and have people fawning all over you – desperate to get a share of it – doesn’t make YOU right and therefore exempt from discourse and comment. You may STAMP it out in Saudi Arabia – but you won’t STAMP out discourse and freedom of expression here. Oh, and if I ever see you in London drinking or smoking or indulging in vices that you would deny to those in your home country – I will take a picture and happily spread it around. Because, no one is free from all vices. No one. And and also – because here I’m free to take pictures, talk openly and marry a bloke – if I so chose.