'They were cheering like it was a beach party': Wife of jailed Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes shares horrific footage of him during flogging that nearly killed him and reveals she hasn't heard from him in the TWO YEARS since

•    Raif Badawi, 33, was arrested in 2012 after blogging about freedom of speech

•    Saudi religious court claims father-of-three's posts 'insulted Islam'
•    Two years later, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes
•    He recieved 50 lashes in 2015 - which nearly killed him - and now has 950 'to go'
•    His wife Ensaf Haidar is urging new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to pardon him

By Sara Malm for MailOnline

31 August 2017

The wife of a Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for 'insulting Islam' has said crowds were 'cheering like they were at a beach party' as he was publicly flogged.

Raif Badawi, 33, was sentenced to ten years in prison and corporal punishment in 2014, and the first 50 of his lashes - which his wife says nearly killed him - was filmed.

She is now petitioning for the newly-instated Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to pardon her husband, urging Saudi-ally UK  and Prime Minister Theresa May to put pressure on the Arab state.

Ensaf Haidar, who fled to Canada with the couple's three children in 2013, tweeted the video from 2015 of her husband being flogged publicly this week.

'This crowd is not a beach party, it's how moderate Muslims act when they flog someone for expressing his own opinions,' she wrote.

Ms Haidar has been campaigning tirelessly to secure her husband's release, setting up the Raif Badawi Foundation to raise awareness of the case.

The first 50 of the 1,000 lashes Mr Badawi faces were administered in 2015, but following punishments has had to be postponed due to his health.

Ms Haidar says the 50 lashes nearly killed her husband, who suffers from high blood pressure.

She adds that the family have no idea how he is doing or when he is going to be flogged again.

'We have not heard anything from Raif or from Saudi Arabia, but we know that he will face further punishment - we are not told when,' Ms Haidar told MailOnline.

'We urge the newly crowned Prince Mohammed Ben Salman to pardon Raif and prevent the 950 lashings being carried out as this is putting Raif's life at risk.

'We also ask why the government in the UK - an ally of Saudi Arabia - remains silent, and that Prime Minister Theresa May uses her good relationship with Saudi Arabia to work for Raif's immediate release and send him back home to Canada to his family.'

Ms Haidar hopes that the recent crowning of a new second-in line to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may help her husband's case.

The Crown Prince, 32 - the youngest defence minister in the world - is known for his efforts to modernise Saudi Arabia, and for promoting social media and internet connectivity.

Since his ascent, the powers of country's feared religious police have been curbed, and non-religious musical concerts are now allowed.

His 'Vision 2030' plan for the country promises to build a 'tolerant and thriving country in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions.

Mr Badawi founded website Free Saudi Liberals and called for free speech and  was first detained in 2008, but released after questioning.

He was arrested again in June 2012, and charged with 'insulting Islam through electronic channels' before his conviction in 2014.

In December 2015, the European Parliament gave Badawi the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Saudi woman pictured not wearing hijab faces calls for her to be killed

One social media user said: 'Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs'

By: Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 3 December 2016
The Independent

A woman in Saudi Arabia pictured without a hijab is facing calls for her to be killed.

Some social media users reacted with outrage after the emergence of the image taken in capital city Riyadh, with one man demanding: “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs”.

The photo was allegedly first posted by an account under the name of Malak Al Shehri, which has since been deleted, reports the International Business Times.

An unnamed student who reposted the image told the website that Ms Al Shehri had announced she was going out to breakfast without either a hijab or abaya; a traditional Saudi body covering.

The student said she started receiving death threats after posting proof in response to followers who had asked to see a photo.

"So many people retweeted it and what she did reached extremists, so she got threats,” the student said. “She deleted her tweets but they didn't stop, so she deleted her account."

A hashtag which translates into English as “we demand the imprisonment of the rebel Angel Al Shehri” subsequently went viral.

One user wrote “we propose blood", while another demanded a "harsh punishment for the heinous situation".

Despite the outrage, many more users in Saudi Arabia came out in support of the woman’s actions.

Attack on holy city of Medina appalls Muslims amid Ramadan violence

By Tim Hume and Tiffany Ap, CNN

July 5, 2016

(CNN)Ramadan draws to a close Tuesday, following weeks of bloodshed throughout the world as Islamist extremists have sought to sow terror during the Muslim holy month.

The scale of the carnage inflicted by extremists over the past week alone has been staggering. Just some of the more bloody attacks: more than 200 killed by a truck bomb in a crowded Baghdad market; 44 killed at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey; 23 killed in a siege of a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

'God wants you to die': Dhaka's long night of terror

But among the most horrifying in its symbolism for many of the world's Muslims was the attack in the Saudi city of Medina -- the resting place of the Prophet Mohammed and the second holiest site in Islam.

Suicide attackers launch wave of strikes in Saudi Arabia

The attack -- the deadliest of three that occurred in Saudi Arabia during in a 24-hour span -- killed four security staff in a parking lot outside the Prophet's Mosque, the grand place of worship that was created in an expansion of the original humble mosque built by the Prophet.

For many Muslims worldwide, as Haroon Moghul, senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy, writes, this was "an assault on Islam itself."


The Medina attack prompted an outpouring of outrage and condemnation, prompting hashtags such as #PrayForMadinah and #bombingattheholysiteofmedina to trend on social media.

Many tweets in Arabic apologized to the Prophet Mohammed for the attackers having struck in the city, seen in Islamic tradition as a safe haven for the Prophet after he led the persecuted early Muslim community there from Mecca.

"O Messenger of Allah...They did not respect the prestige of your residence in their neighbourhood," wrote one Twitter user.

Many expressed the view that no Muslim could have targeted one of the religion's holy cities, or were quick to distance Islam from the attacks.

"Three bomb attack in 24hrs in the holiest place for Muslims," wrote one Twitter user. "(H)ow can anyone relate Islam to terrorism?!"

Another wrote that the mosque was "one of the most peaceful places on earth."

"Terrorism has no religion!"

Saudi government ‘wants to EXECUTE gay people who show their sexuality in public & online'

SAUDI law makers could impose the death penalty on gay people who show their sexuality in public and on social media, according to reports.


PUBLISHED: 01:59, Wed, Mar 30, 2016

The government in the Sunni Kingdom is reportedly demanding tougher punishments on those found guilty and claimed social media has caused a boom in homosexuality.

According to Okaz newspaper, the last six months has seen 35 cases of homosexuality and 50 cases of cross-dressers as well as cases of "sexual perversion” in Saudi Arabia.

The judiciary reportedly also claimed there has been a large rise in "perverts" displaying "sins and obscenities" on social media in the Sunni Kingdom.

It comes after a Saudi man was arrested this week when he raised the rainbow flag outside his home in Jeddah.

The doctor was arrested by religious police within hours of hoisting the flag in the port city.

But he was released shortly afterwards when he claimed he had no idea what the pride flag symbolised.

In addition, Okaz reported that a man in his 50s was arrested for making sexual advances to men online.

He allegedly begged for forgiveness during the police interrogation and said he would not do it again.

The calls from the law makers has seen a backlash on social media with some using the hashtag #I_am_gay_will_not_be_deterred.

One tweeted: "I stand with the Saudi Arabian LGBT community."

Currently, the Saudi government hands out fines, prison sentences and whipping for being openly gay.

A second conviction automatically merits automatic executions although vigilante executions are also common.

Juvenile prisoner faces 'death by crucifixion' after appeal is dismissed

By Priya Joshi
International Business Times
Sep 17, 2015

A prisoner in Saudi Arabia, who was sentenced to death as a child, faces "death by crucifixion" after a final appeal has been dismissed. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested on 14 February 2012 when he was just 17, during a crackdown on anti-government protests in the Shiite province of Qatif. He was accused by the authorities of participation in illegal protests and of firearms offences, despite there being no evidence to justify the latter charge.

Ali was initially held at a juvenile offenders facility, where he was denied access to lawyers. Evidence indicates that he was tortured and forced to sign a document which was tantamount to a confession. The signed document formed the basis of the case against him and he was convicted of the alleged offences by the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC). However, the trials failed to meet international standards. Ali and his family have strongly denied the charges against him, but, after the final appeal - which was held in secret and without Ali's knowledge - was dismissed, there are few legal options remaining to oppose the sentence originally handed down on 27 May 2014. It is feared that Ali could be executed in a matter of days.

The case against Ali appears to be based on his familial connection to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime and a prominent religious leader in the Kingdom, who is his uncle. Mr Al Nimr was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges including 'insulting the King' and delivering religious sermons that 'disrupt national unity'. This week, it emerged that the authorities plan to execute Ali's uncle on Thursday (17 September) sparking fears that his nephew will also be killed.

Human rights organization Reprieve has urged the European Union to intervene with Saudi Arabia to prevent the killings.

Commenting on the inhumane and unjust sentence, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said: "No one should have to go through the ordeal Ali has suffered – torture, forced 'confession,' and an unfair, secret trial process, resulting in a sentence of death by 'crucifixion.' But worse still, Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began. His execution – based apparently on the authorities' dislike for his uncle, and his involvement in anti-government protests – would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency. It must be stopped."

Ali is just one of a number of young protestors including Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon, who have been sentenced to death following involvement in anti-government protests. In January 2015, prominent Saudi blogger Raif Al-Badawi received the first of 1000 lashes as part of his sentence for his statements criticising the Saudi regime in 2012.

In a post to the NGO's website Foa added: "Saudi Arabia's wave of executions since the start of this year has provoked widespread disgust. But these killings, if they are allowed to go ahead, will mark a new low."

Despite global condemnation, the Saudi Government has continued to carry out executions at a high rate since King Salman came to power in January 2015. On May 6th 2015, the Kingdom carried out its 79th execution of the year, and it is already close to surpassing its 2014 total of 87 executions. The Saudi government maintains all cases are tried in accordance with Sharia law, and with strict fair trial standards observed.

According to Amnesty International Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, with only China and Iran carrying out more judicial killings.

A Facebook page has been created to rally support in protest at the death sentence on Ali Mohammed al-Nimr.

‘A Sinner in Mecca’ documents gay Muslim pilgrimage

Director of film giving inside glance into hajj, filmed on iPhone, calls for reform in Islam, saying it’s ‘imploding upon itself’

BY JENNIE MATTHEW August 31, 2015

NEW YORK (AFP) — The confession of a Pakistani murderer. Overzealous religious police. An Arab angered his pregnant wife was molested in the holiest site known to Islam.

A new film made by a gay Muslim pilgrim offers a English-speaking Western audience a warts-and-all view of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in a documentary that has attracted death threats and an online hate campaign.

It is a rebuke of Saudi Arabia and its strict Wahhabi form of Islam, but it is also deeply personal — a man trying to reconcile his faith with his sexuality.

From that perspective which includes footage of his wedding to his American husband in New York, millions of Muslims will likely find “A Sinner in Mecca” provocative if not offensive.

But director and pilgrim, Indian-born New Yorker Parvez Sharma, sees it as a wake-up call for a faith followed by nearly a quarter of humanity which he believes has been hijacked by a violent minority.

“Islam is imploding upon itself right now and there’s a huge crisis,” Sharma told AFP.

“It (a reformation) is happening, but it is happening too slowly and we’re running out of time.”

“The change needs to happen with Wahhabi Islam — that is the root of all the problems,” he said.

Sharma associates with the Sufi branch of Islam common in his homeland India, which unlike Wahhabism embraces music and a more mystical — and less dogmatic — approach to faith.

He performed hajj in 2011, four months after Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed and seven months after the Arab Spring began. He says the timing was deliberate.

“I felt that it would be the most interesting time to go with all this churning going on in the Muslim world.”

Most striking is his footage, filmed on a mobile phone and two tiny cameras without permission from Saudi authorities, then smuggled out of the country.

“Early on,” he explains, “my iPhone was taken away by the religious police and they deleted initial early footage,” he said.

“These guys walk around with sticks and hit you if you’re doing something they consider un-Islamic, and I was on the wrong end of the stick several times.”

He captures the crush encircling the Kaaba, the sacred site in whose direction Muslims pray, the giant shopping mall next door where you can get a Starbucks coffee and the discomfort of standing on a bus an entire night to go to Mount Arafat.

“There is nothing kind about this process,” Sharma says in the film.

He calls his first experience at the Kaaba “probably the most violent night of my entire life.” He says he strung his iPhone around his neck and just let the camera roll.

Most of the film focuses on him. But he also includes two of more than 50 interviews he said he conducted.

An Arab man in the film complains that his wife was touched by other men, and a man from Lahore, a city in eastern Pakistan, confesses to seeking atonement for taking part in a so-called “honor” killing.

It has been shown at film festivals in Britain and North America, and goes on cinema release in New York on Friday before being aired on European television and Netflix in coming months.

“Sharma’s constant filming of his own face and his reactions to what he’s seeing give the film a sometimes annoying ‘selfie’ perspective,” wrote reviewer, David Savage, in Cut Print Film.

But he called it “an important and rare film” given “the threats of violence and death that have suppressed many of his fellow Muslim gays into hiding.”

Sharma says much of the response has been positive. But he has received a torrent of hate mail and online death threats coming from servers in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
He says the Iranian government has denounced it. He tells of being accosted by yelling Saudi women at a festival in Britain.

“I hope that Muslims will eventually react positively,” he told AFP.

Saudi Supreme Court upholds verdict against liberal blogger flogged for insulting Islam

Published June 07, 2015
Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates –  Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court upheld an internationally condemned verdict against a liberal blogger who was publicly flogged after being found guilty of insulting Islam, state-linked news websites reported Sunday.

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the sentence of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was lashed in January in a public square, is final and cannot be overturned without a royal pardon.

Badawi, imprisoned since 2012, initially was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for breaking Saudi Arabia's technology laws and insulting Islamic religious figures through a blog he created.

After an appeal, a criminal court in Jiddah last year stiffened the punishment to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He also was banned from traveling abroad for 10 years after his prison term and fined $266,000.

In January, security officials flogged Badawi outside a mosque in Jiddah. Saudi rights activists said it was meant as a warning to others who think to criticize the religious establishment, of which the ruling family derives much of its authority.

Subsequent floggings were halted as the Supreme Court reviewed the case. A person close to the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said that because Badawi's flogging has been halted since January, the Supreme Court ruling may exclude lashings. It was not immediately possible to clarify the details of the judges' ruling.

The lashes had been scheduled to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week, according to the London-based rights group Amnesty International. The rights group has launched a global campaign to call for Badawi's release and said Sunday that he remains at risk of being flogged.

Saudi Arabia's Western allies, including Washington, have called on authorities to rescind the punishment. The kingdom maintains its judiciary is independent and has rejected international pressure as interference in the country's internal affairs.

Women's rights campaigners who tried to drive into Saudi Arabia are to be sent to special 'terrorism' tribunal
•    Saudi Arabia is the only country that does not allow women to drive
•    Campaigner Loujain Hathloul was arrested as she flouted the ban
•    Journalist Maysaa Alamoudi detained after she arrived to support Hathloul
•    Activists say the pair will now face a special 'terrorism' court in Riyadh
•    It is thought this is the first time women drivers have been sent to court

26 December 2014

Two women's rights campaigners who tried to drive into Saudi Arabia are set to face a special 'terrorism' court, activists said.

Loujain Hathloul, 25, was arrested after she tried to drive into the country from neighbouring United Arab Emirates, flouting the ban on women motorists.

Maysaa Alamoudi, 33, a UAE-based Saudi journalist, arrived at the border to support Hathloul and was also detained.

Activists claim that it is the first time female motorists have been referred to the criminal court in the capital of Riyadh, which was established to try terrorism cases.

The pair have now been held by the authorities since December 1, and their detention is thought to be the longest yet for any women who defied the driving ban.

Campaigners said investigations surrounding the women appeared to focus on their social media activities rather than their driving.

They now fear the case is being used to send a warning to others pushing for greater rights.

The ruling to send the pair to the special court was made at a hearing in Al-Ahsa, in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, it was claimed.

'They will transfer her case to the terrorism court,' said one activist familiar, who declined to be named, with the Hathloul  case, adding that her lawyer plans to appeal.

A second activist confirmed that Alamoudi's case was also being moved to the specialist tribunal.

Hathloul has 228,000 followers on the social networking site Twitter. Before her arrest she posted details of the 24 hours she spent waiting to cross into Saudi Arabia after border officers stopped her on November 30.

Alamoudi has 131,000 followers and has also hosted a programme on YouTube discussing the driving ban.

In early December Saudi authorities blocked the website of a regional human rights group which reported the women's case.

Reporters Without Borders, a watchdog, this year named Saudi Arabia as one of 19 countries where government agencies are 'enemies of the Internet' for their censorship and surveillance.

In October, dozens of women posted images online of themselves behind the wheel as part of an online campaign supporting the right to drive.

In response, the Ministry of Interior said it would 'strictly implement' measures against anyone undermining 'the social cohesion'.

Activists say women's driving is not technically illegal but that the ban is linked to tradition and custom in the conservative kingdom.

Saudi cops stop wedding in public park

Emirates 24/7
Published Thursday, June 27, 2013

Saudi Arabia’s religious police raided a park in the Gulf Kingdom and stopped a wedding they considered as a violation of conservative local traditions.

Hundreds of visitors to the park south of the capital Riyadh surrounded the newly-wed Egyptian couple to take part in the party before members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice entered the park and stopped the event.

“A source in the Commission said the wedding was stopped because it violated local traditions as the bride was not covering her face and the groom was holding her hand and hugging her sometimes,” Ajel newspaper said.

42 arrested for mixed-gender party

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic police raided a house and rounded up 42 Asian men and women for staging an illegal mixed-gender birthday party, a newspaper in the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom reported.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stormed the house in the southern town of Bani Amro after receiving phone calls from local residents about the party, Okaz reported earlier in June.

“The raid resulted in the arrest of 30 men and 12 women from east Asia for staging an illegal mixed-gender party,” the Arabic language daily said, quoting police spokesman Major Abdullah Alshaatan.

30 busted for camp-fire bash

In May, 2013, Saudi Arabia’s religious police arrested 30 people, including Westerners and Saudis, after they were caught having a mixed-gender party involving alcohol and drugs, a newspaper had reported.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice raided a night camp outside the capital Riyadh lit by movie-inspired fire torches and seized 30 people from 11 nationalities, some of whom were in various states of undress.

Sabq newspaper, quoting a Commission member, said three men were caught having sex with women inside a tent while others were seized with drugs.

“They were having drugs and alcoholic drinks and some of them were moving and dancing to strange music,” the paper quoted the unnamed member as saying.

“Many of them were dancing around a fire as part of their Satanic rituals. Unfortunately, some of them were Saudis.”

The paper said those arrested were from the United States, Europe, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia vows to end violence with "iron fist"

Feb 20, 2012

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said on Monday its security forces would use "an iron fist" to end violence in a Shi'ite Muslim area of the country and defended its tactics against what it called foreign-backed troublemakers.

Sunni Muslim kingdom Saudi Arabia has blamed an unnamed foreign power, widely understood to mean Shi'ite Iran, for backing attacks on its security forces in its Eastern Province.

But members of the Shi'ite minority in the area have accused the kingdom's own security force of using violence against protesters.

"It is the state's right to confront those that confront it first ... and the Saudi Arabian security forces will confront such situations ... with determination and force and with an iron first," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement came in response to a sermon preached in the Qatif area of the Eastern Province last week that criticized the government's handling of the situation, in which at least six people have been killed, a ministry spokesman said.

Shi'ite activists in Qatif said the clashes first began at the height of the Arab uprisings last year and were provoked by the detention without charge of political campaigners.

Four people were killed in November, one in January and one earlier this month, the interior ministry has said in past statements.

Members of the minority have long complained of discrimination, which they say makes it harder for them to find government jobs, attend university or worship in open than members of the Sunni majority.

Since the protests and clashes started last year, they have also complained of police checkpoints and patrols which they describe as heavy handed.

The government says it does not discriminate against Shi'ites and has said the increased security is intended to protect Qatif residents.

It has repeatedly blamed the clashes on people attacking security forces.

The statement said the security forces were using "the greatest restraint ... despite continuing provocations" and "will not act except in self defense and will not initiate confrontations."

"Some of those few (who attacked security forces) are manipulated by foreign hands because of the kingdom's honorable foreign policy positions towards Arab and Islamic countries," the ministry's spokesman said in the statement.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have fought for influence across the Middle East. 

Saudi Columnist: "We Must Admit that Our Relations with America Were the Cornerstone for Our Development and Progress. In Return, We Must Ask What We Have Gained from Our Relations with the Arab World"

In a recent column in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah titled "Thank You America," Muhammad Al-Sheikh described how relations with the U.S. have benefited Saudi Arabia, while Arab nationalism has proven to be "a destructive ideology."

The following translation of Al-Sheikh's article appeared June 18, 2005 in the Saudi English-language daily Arab News:

"What have the Arabs given us Saudis in comparison to what we have gained from our relations with America? I know very well that this is an extremely sensitive issue that many would hesitate to address; they are restrained by a culture of fear that prevents them from confronting controversial and sensitive issues head-on.

"The late King Abdul Aziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, was a resourceful and far-sighted statesman when he chose the Americans rather than the British to come and search for oil in the Kingdom. He did so despite Britain at the time being an important force in the region, with its colonies and dependencies surrounding the infant kingdom. The politics of the time plus the colonial legacies of both Britain and France made King Abdul Aziz distance himself from them and look to the New World.

"Not long after the Americans and their expertise arrived, oil was gushing from beneath the desert sands and the development of the modern Saudi state began.

"Following World War II, the Arab countries had to choose between the two different world systems — communism or capitalism. King Abdul Aziz chose capitalism, the West, and America in particular. Thanks to this relationship that has lasted for more than six decades, we Saudis were able to invest oil revenues in building our country. King Abdul Aziz laid the foundations for a consistent Saudi foreign policy that held the Kingdom's interests above other considerations.

"These are the reasons why the Kingdom flourished while other countries went down or teetered on the verge of collapsing. Those countries bet on the wrong horse and did not realize that survival lies in economic development and modernization. They chose to confine themselves in a cocoon and remain isolated from the rest of the world, blinded by the illusions of nationalism and other false ideologies. It was indeed very strange to hear those fragile regimes labeling themselves progressive while calling us reactionary.

"We must admit that our relations with America were the cornerstone for our development and progress. In return, we must ask what we have gained from our relations with the Arab world. Speaking frankly and unequivocally, all we got from them was trouble. Our brothers, as they call themselves, conspired against us, attacked us, and used all the means at their disposal to derail our plans for unity.

Saudis Hypocritical On Tolerance

By Michael Hubbard

The Daily Campus - Commentary
Issue: 10/12/05

Saudi Arabia is one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, yet the world remains silent. The United States is globally criticized for every misstep, but virtually no one knows of Saudi Arabia's hypocritical injustices. In fact, perhaps America's greatest injustice and most appropriate criticism, is in its continued support for Saudi Arabia.

The alleged Koran desecrations at Guantanamo made headline news for weeks, evoking outrage and sparking massive demonstrations around the world. Saudi Arabia officially responded with "indignation" demanding immediate action by the United States to rectify and prevent the alleged incidents. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, it is standard procedure for visitors to have their Bibles, religious symbols and other non-Wahhabi religious texts confiscated and incinerated (Wahhabism is Saudi Arabia's official sect of Islam). Possessing a Bible within Saudi Arabia can result in arrest, deportation and even a death sentence. For example, Sadeq Mallallah, a young Shia Muslim, was beheaded in 1993 for owning a Bible.

America, on the other hand, not only gives their prisoners Korans, but they protect the texts from being disrespected. In fact, there were only five confirmed Koran desecration incidents at Guantanamo, and the only proven intentional one was a guard kicking a Koran. In light of such a fact, it is outrageous that the entire world, including Saudi Arabia, was in an uproar over a few minor mishandlings of the Koran in a prison. This is especially outrageous, as virtually all of the mishandlings were proven false or exaggerated, while Saudi Arabia, to this day, continues its tyrannical nationwide ban on all non-Muslim religious texts and symbols.

The Saudi hypocrisy does not end there. There are millions of non-Muslim guest workers who live and work in Saudi Arabia, forbidden from practicing their own religion. For example, this past April, 40 Pakistani Christians were arrested for, as one Saudi official put it, "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." A few hours later, King Abdullah flew to the United States to have a meeting with President George W. Bush. During the meeting, it was established that, "Saudi Arabia reiterates its call on all those who teach and propagate the Islamic faith to adhere strictly to the Islamic message of peace, moderation and tolerance and reject that which deviates from those principles. Both countries agree that this message of peace, moderation and tolerance must extend to those of all faiths and practices."

Despite such a pledge, Americans in Saudi Arabia cannot openly celebrate Easter, Christmas or even Thanksgiving. Indeed, Saudi Arabia continues to espouse tolerance internationally, while domestically brutally suppressing all non-Wahhabi sects.

While Saudi Arabia prevents other religions from preaching within its borders, the Saudis certainly have no problem spending billions of dollars preaching abroad. After the war in Bosnia, Saudi Arabia willingly provided aid, but not without strings attached. Mosques built by Saudi funding could not be built in the rich cultural heritage of Bosnian Muslims. Instead, they needed to be built in the featureless Wahhabi style. Saudi Arabia leveraged their aid, trying to impose a strict Wahhabi doctrine on the culturally unique Bosnian Muslims.

Earlier this year, Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a report on the Saudi government's funding of publications of hate ideologies for American Mosques. Some publications stated that for a homosexual or someone who engaged in heterosexual activity outside of marriage "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money." There are also numerous statements against Sufi Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Christians, Jews, women and democracy. It is hypocritical that the Saudis are allowed to hate monger and preach abroad while there is no freedom of religion in their own country.

Saudi citizens are allowed to traverse the world, and each country allows them to freely practice their faith. Yet, Saudi Arabia is a nation where non-Muslims are not allowed to be citizens, and non-Muslims can't even enter the city of Mecca. There is no freedom of religion, and though the government claims to respect the right of non-Muslims to worship in private, this right has been repeatedly violated. In light of Saudi Arabia's hypocrisy and extreme intolerance, the United States needs to seriously reconsider its support of Saudi Arabia and the international news media needs to stop ignoring Saudi Arabia's hypocrisy.


Three French nationals shot dead in Saudi Arabia

04 December 2007

President Bush has expressed disappointment with Saudi Arabia for a court's decision to sentence a victim of a gang rape to 200 lashes and six months in prison.

Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House Tuesday, that he would have been very emotional if his own daughter had endured such treatment. He said he would also have been angry at those who committed the crime and at a state that did not support the victim.

Mr. Bush said he has not discussed the issue with Saudi King Abdullah. But he said the king knows the U.S. position on the case.

A Saudi court sentenced the 19-year-old Shi'ite woman last week for being in public with a man not related to her. The Saudi Justice Ministry says the woman and her companion were noticed by several men who kidnapped and raped both of them.

The court said it increased the woman's original sentence of 90 lashes because she had spoken to the media.

Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry said Saturday the unidentified, married woman had confessed to having an extramarital affair last year.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives.

The seven men convicted of raping the woman and her male companion have been given sentences ranging from two to nine years in prison.

The Saudi government has accused the international media of reporting false information about the case.