Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Egyptian Doctor, a Saudi Princess, and 1,500 lashes

It sounds like something out of a mildly deranged Arabian Nights story: The trusted old physician, after long service to the royal family, eases the suffering of the king's daughter. Who had been downing soothing draughts long before he gave her one.

Almost two years later, as the physician prepares to return to his homeland, the king's guards seize him and throw him in prison.

I'm being a bit unfair. Saudi Arabia has trials before throwing enemies of the crown into prison. In this case, two trials. Raouf Amin el-Arabi, the Egyptian doctor who had the dubious distinction of lasting 20 years in the House of Saud, appealed his conviction. The official charge is malpractice, by the way.

So a Saudi judge doubled his sentence.

Unless another Saudi judge gets his nose out of joint, the Egyptian doctor will serve 15 years in a Saudi prison, and get lashed 70 times a week.

My guess is that the sentence won't be carried out. Raouf Amin el-Arabi is 53, and will probably die before the full 1,500 lashes are delivered. Of course, in the interests of justice, a Saudi tormentor could go on lashing a corpse.

Or, maybe the international stink will encourage the powers that be in Saudi Arabia to letting the doctor go.

Islamic Law? Or Kangaroo Court, Saudi Style?

Does this weirdly anachronistic case show that Islam is a violent cult from a barbaric age?

If that were true, Islamic nations in general could be counted on to mistreat the foreigners who do their work.

But, although Saudi Arabia can be counted on for bizarre news like this every few months, very Islamic Indonesia quietly rolls along being a nation in the information age: no junkie princesses getting doctors sentenced to a prolonged death by flogging.

I've said this before: I think that Islam, in common with some other systems of belief, is heavily influenced by whatever culture its followers have.

So, we have Indonesia being rather quietly Islamic (with some recent and disturbing exceptions), while Saudi Arabia seems determined to paint Islam as a religion of very strange and dangerous men.


Every Crowd Has its Kooks

Meanwhile, in America, a Muslim education campaign demonstrated that Muslims aren't the only group with members who are ignorant, and want to stay that way: Related post: In the news: Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.