Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court reaffirmed yesterday that it rejects the most fundamental notions of due process, free speech, freedom of religion, and the free press. It was able to do all of that in one case — perfectly capturing the inherently abusive elements of Sharia law and religiously based legal systems.
As we have previously discussed, Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was lashed in January in a public square, sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for breaking Saudi Arabia’s technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through a blog. In a demonstration of utter contempt for human rights and world opinion, an appellate criminal court in Jiddah last year increased the punishment to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years after his prison term and fined $266,000.
He was notably flogged outside of a mosque in Jiddah to further establish the imposition of Islamic justice for someone who simply wrote about his opinion on current events. The barbaric flogging is scheduled for 20 weekly sessions with 50 lashes each week.
Once again, it is cases like Badawi that raise the question of the distinction between some of our closest allies and the “extremists” that we are committed to resist. It is not the fight against extremism that I question (though we can debate the means), it is the selective measure that we apply between different countries. It is certainly true that Saudi Arabia is not viewed as a sponsor of terrorism, has attempted some marginal reforms, and has committed itself to fighting ISIS. I see the difference with ISIS even with Saudi Arabia beheading people in public squares and sentencing people to death for apostasy. However, it remains a country that refuses a single non-Mosque to be built on its territory, widespread denial of free speech, denial of basis rights for women, denial of the free press, and a host of other rights considered core human rights.