Friday, November 24, 2006

Sharia law in practice

According to a recent article by Associated Press, the Saudi Arabian version of Sharia law apparently gives judges “complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment, such as capital crimes.” A rapist, for example, could receive anything from no sentence at all to death depending on the whim of the judge.

The article describes the case of some men who gang raped a woman and received 1 to 4 years in prison plus 80 to 1000 lashes (The lashes are usually administered 50 at a time over a period of days—The word “torture” comes to mind). But then, in a ruling that defies explanation, the 19 year old female victim of the rape was sentenced to receive 90 lashes just for being in a car with a male friend when the rapists attacked them. In another case a judge sentenced men to 300 lashes and 1 to 2 years in prison for raping a 12 year old boy.

Saudi Arabia, of course, is not the only Muslim country to administer such harsh punishments (and in some cases, the interrogation process may be worse than the sentence!). I must admit that 1000 lashes for rapists or child molesters sounds like an entirely appropriate penalty, but it seems a bit hypocritical for Muslim countries to condemn the United States for our treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, when some of these Muslim countries treat their own citizens so much worse by comparison.

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