Saudi Arabia's rights violations often ignored

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

To the editor:
The world is full of terrible regimes and gross human rights violators. One of them, China, is set to host the Olympics this summer and Sudan, while certainly not front and centre, receives some attention.

However, this discussion almost always omits a nation with which we share (according to the Department of Foreign Affairs) “common interests on many peace and security issues, including energy security [and] humanitarian affairs.”

I am talking about Saudi Arabia, where a sadistic group of grown-up bullies get to dress like police, call themselves the mutaween and roam the streets enforcing ludicrous “vice” laws.

Perhaps you heard about the 2002 case when they prevented the rescue of schoolgirls trapped in a burning building because they were inappropriately dressed or maybe this fall you saw the headline “Saudi King pardons gang rape victim.”

I hope that caused you to do a double take. Her crime was being in the company of an unrelated male, and when she appealed she was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail.

In announcing her pardon, the King declared the verdict “fair,” but said he felt the victim suffered enough. The justice ministry maintains the punishment was deserved, as she provoked the attack by being improperly dressed.

In the 21st Century, this is intolerable to anyone possessing human decency, a quality sadly lacking in the entire Saudi government. Our nation, which prides itself as a defender of human rights, should have as little as possible to do with the misogynistic stain upon human dignity that is Saudi Arabia.

Maybe I am wrong and we should maintain relations to push reform, but there is no mention of it from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the status quo is unacceptable.
"Kevin Feheley
M.A. History

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