Saudi king pardons gang-rape victim?

posted at 9:55 am on December 17, 2007 by Allahpundit

Sure to be controversial in the Kingdom, which makes it the bizarro world version of the Dumond case. The Saudis had been spinning the court’s decision to impose 200 lashes on her as one of the occasional lamentable quirks of an independent judiciary, but it wasn’t quite true: Human Rights Watch told ABC weeks ago that a pardon from the king or the provincial governor would spare her, whatever shari’a might have to say about the subject.

Amazing what a little western media attention can do when it’s properly applied.

Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but instead acted in the “interests of the people.”

“The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,” al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.

The significance of a pardon vis-a-vis a reversal on appeal isn’t lost on feminists:

Fawziya al-Oyouni, a women’s rights activist, welcomed the report but said it was not enough.

“We don’t want to rely simply on pardons. We need harsher sentences for the guilty parties and we want to feel safe,” she said, citing another rape case in the Eastern Province this month.

Pardons are arbitrary and depend on the whim of the executive; she’s been spared not as a matter of right or of justice, but of paternal mercy. A precarious position, needless to say. The odd thing is, I think there is a genuine parallel with Dumond here: In both cases the governing authority was hoping the justice system would resolve the issue in such a way that they didn’t have to intervene and grant clemency themselves. Back in our very first post on this subject I noted how strange it was that the Arab News, a Saudi house organ, was criticizing the judiciary for the decision. It seemed like a way of pressuring them into reversing themselves by stirring up bad PR so that Abdullah wouldn’t have to act. I guess the word came down that if he wanted something done he’d have to do it himself. We’ll see what the fallout is, if any.

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And the effort to close the information “leak” that spread the news of this ludicrous case is sure to follow…

desertdweller on December 17, 2007 at 10:01 AM

She’ll be dead in a week.

This wasn’t a “judgement of innocence”, it was a pardon. Technically she is still “guilty”.

Somewhere, some one feels “insulted”, “enraged” and “duty bound” to restore the honor of her family.


Talon on December 17, 2007 at 10:09 AM

This, along with Teddybeargate, shows that international outrage can work in these medieval cases. I wonder if the Bush Administration quietly pulled some strings in Riyadh as well.

factoid on December 17, 2007 at 10:22 AM

Praise to Allah! Saudi Arabia is once again a safe place for people to get gang-raped. Long Live the King!!

morganfrost on December 17, 2007 at 10:26 AM

Praise to Allah! Saudi Arabia is once again a safe place for people to get gang-raped. Long Live the King!!

You slay me!

thejackal on December 17, 2007 at 10:32 AM

I can’t wait to hear what the ignorant pundits on The View will have to say on this.

Didn’t she know the rules of her own culture? She never should have sat in a car with a man she wasn’t related to in the first place! Look what an awkward position she has put the King in.

tsk tsk!!

Buy Danish on December 17, 2007 at 10:43 AM

We let’s just hope she learns her lesson.

maybe next time she’ll give some thought before she runs out and gets raped again.

If they keep letting women off, they will start going out and getting raped willy nilly.

TheSitRep on December 17, 2007 at 10:52 AM

I’m glad this happened, even though Abdullah is full of it.

The article said she wanted to get a picture of herself back? I guess this is when a burque is not so bad to be wearing.

moonsbreath on December 17, 2007 at 11:10 AM

“… she’s been spared not as a matter of right or of justice, but of paternal mercy.”

I think the latter is inaccurate, AP. It wasn’t paternal mercy but a studious avoiding of further foreign PR misery and, thus, deciding the frying pan is better than the fire.

Dusty on December 17, 2007 at 11:12 AM

What a gracious dictator Abdullah is for pardoning this woman for being gang-raped. I’m sure this will teach her never to do THAT again. Who can deny this is Saudi justice at its finest? It reminds me of that other Great Moment In Saudi Justice when the King pardoned the Westerners for bombing themselves way back before the Saudis wanted to admit they had an Al Qaeda problem.

Tantor on December 17, 2007 at 12:45 PM