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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Saudi prince: "Islam guarantees justice for all"

From Arab News:
Crown Prince Sultan said yesterday that the newly issued Judiciary Law and Court of Grievances Law were important turning points in the Kingdom’s judicial history. He said the new laws would ensure justice and protect public rights. Prince Sultan made this statement as he opened an international conference on engineering arbitration organized by the Saudi Council of Engineers. “Islam guarantees justice for all,” the prince said. Eastern Province Gov. Prince Muhammad ibn Fahd and his deputy Prince Jalawi also attended the opening session.
This may be the most unintentionally ironic quote of the decade.

The US State Department 2005 report on human rights in Saudi Arabia found:
• no right to change the government
• infliction of severe pain by judicially sanctioned corporal punishments
• beatings and other abuses
• arbitrary arrest
• incommunicado detention
• denial of fair public trials
exemption from the rule of law for some individuals and lack of judicial independence
• political prisoners
• infringement of privacy rights
significant restriction of civil liberties--freedoms of speech and press, assembly, association, and movement
no religious freedom
• widespread perception of corruption
• lack of government transparency
legal and societal discrimination against women, religious and other minorities
• strict limitations on worker rights.

The government does not provide legal protection for freedom of religion, and such protection did not exist. Islam is the official religion, and Islamic law as interpreted by the government requires that all citizens be Muslims. Government leaders called for tolerance and moderation, and King Abdullah and other leaders made public pronouncements condemning religious extremism.

...Christians were detained for practicing their religion. For example, the newspaper Al-Jazeerah reported that 40 Pakistani citizens, including one Muslim, were arrested on April 12 after conducting Christian religious services in an apartment in Riyadh.

...Proselytizing by non-Muslims, including the distribution of non‑Islamic religious materials such as Bibles, was illegal. Anyone publicly wearing any kind of religious symbols risked a confrontation with the religious police.

Under the Hanbali interpretation of Shari'a, judges may discount the testimony of persons who are not practicing Muslims or who do not adhere to "correct doctrine".

...There continued to be instances in which mosque speakers prayed for the death of Jews, including from the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

...Male citizens have the freedom to travel within the country and abroad; however, the government restricted these rights for women based on its interpretation of Islamic Law. All women in the country were prohibited from driving and were dependent upon men for transportation. Likewise, they must obtain written permission from a male relative or guardian before the authorities allow them to travel abroad.

...Women were not permitted either to vote or to stand for office.
It looks like we need to amend "justice for all" to "justice for all Muslim Sunni religious adult males who don't upset the Muttawa."