Friday, November 16, 2007

The Delay of Justice

by Abeer Mishkhas from Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

There is a never-ending flow of news about incredible Saudi court rulings. The latest involved a groom being sentenced to lashing and prison for entering the wedding hall with his bride. For those who are unfamiliar with the customs of Saudi weddings, the couple march together into the women’s only area where photographs are taken and then, in most cases, the groom then leaves and the bride remains with her female relatives and friends. In this case, however, a woman was offended that the groom had come into the women’s area and complained to the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The commission called the groom the next day to inform him of his crime. He was subsequently sentenced on the basis of a complaint from one woman without having a chance to tell his side of the story. The accusation was made and he was sentenced. That was that. What is involved here are our social traditions and customs so we may well ask how such a case ended up in court as a criminal offense. The latest reforms to the Saudi legal system promise much needed changes as soon as they are implemented. The establishment of a Supreme Court is welcome news and it should mean that in such cases as Fatima’s and the Qatif girl’s solutions will be found that will restore peace to their lives and reassure others that justice is above all and is neither delayed nor denied.

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