MAS Freedom Welcomes Saudi King’s Pardon of ‘Qatif Girl’ But Reiterates the Need for Change
Fate of Attorney’s License to Practice Law Remains Unknown
By Aishah Schwartz
WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Dec. 17, 2007 – MAS Freedom (MASF), as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), welcomes the announcement out of Saudi Arabia that King Abdallah has pardoned a 19-year old female victim of gang rape, known only as ‘Qatif Girl’, sentenced to 200 lashes and 6-months imprisonment.
MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray, who previously proclaimed the sentencing as a “gross and cruel miscarriage of true justice”, today added, “While the pardon in the ‘Qatif Girl’ case is, indeed, good news, particularly on this, the first day of Hajj, the fact remains that a pardon does not overturn the verdict - which means that Judges within the Kingdom remain undeterred from making the same ruling in similar cases.
“The fact that this story received international media attention does not mean that the next victim will be so lucky. Clearly, from a human rights standpoint, we must continue to press for real change - judicial change - before the Qatif Girl case becomes cold. Unless real change is seen as a result of this pardon, it is nothing more than eye-candy for the media.
“Equally important, and not to be forgotten, is the fact that human rights activist and attorney for the rape victim, Abdul-Rahman Al-Lahem, had his license to practice law suspended in defending his client - yet another gross miscarriage of justice that remains to be rectified,” Bray concluded.
MAS Freedom stands by its original statement:
We call upon the Saudi government to overturn this cruel sentence, and to immediately reinstate her attorney to the practice of law so that he can give her the legal representation that she is due.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught in his Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) that ‘Paradise lies at the feet of our mothers’. How, then, can Muslims tolerate the violent abuse of women in the eyes of any legal system?
American Muslims must not be silent in the face of such blatant violations of decency and fundamental human rights. We call upon our entire community, and American Muslim organizations nationwide to condemn this terrible miscarriage of justice.
MAS Freedom believes that the true value and beauty of Islam can only be manifested when women are afforded the respect, and human rights given to all human beings by our Creator. We reject the distorted, and un-Islamic idea, that regards the systematic oppression, and even physical violation of women as tolerable.”
According to Arab News, CNN and other international media sources, the victim had been gang raped by seven Saudi men, when she attempted to retrieve unspecified photographs from allegedly being used in a blackmail scheme.
However, when the woman made a public protest in response to what she and her attorney, Abdul-Rahman Al-Lahem, considered the inappropriately lenient prison sentences given to her attackers-ranging from ten months to five years-she herself received a court sentence of six months in prison, and 200 lashes.
The victim’s husband (and ‘legal guardian’) has remained steadfastly supportive of his wife.