200 Lashes for Saudi Rape Victim, Campaigning Lawyer Who Complained of “Jungle Shariah” Has Licence Revoked

Back in July, the Saudi Gazette reported on an appeal following a rape trial:

THE Supreme Judicial Council has ordered re-sentencing of seven men who raped a girl in Qatif a year-and-a-half ago, said the girl’s lawyer.

The Council said the sentences given by the Qatif Court were too lenient, Abdulrahman Al-Lahem, the rape victim’s lawyer, told the Saudi Gazette.

The girl herself had been sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a car with non-relatives, and there was some jubilation that the sentencing would be re-examined:

“This is a great victory for us,” said Al-Lahem…

“I felt relieved,” AG (name withheld), the rape victim told the Saudi Gazette.

“I feel like my dignity has been restored.

“The thought of the lashing has been haunting me ever since,” said AG.

However, a new report shows that AG’s reprieve was actually some kind of sick and sadistic joke:

An appeal court in Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of lashes and added a jail sentence as punishment for a woman who was gang-raped…the judges said she had been attempting to use the media to influence them.

The three judges – one of whom is named by the Arab News as Soliman Al-Muhanna and by CNN as Saad Al-Muhanna – also revoked Al-Lahem’s licence to practice. Al-Lahem had described the original sentencing as “jungle sharia”.

Al-Lahem has been in the public eye for several years, and he has been profiled by both Time and the Washington Post. He was jailed in 2004 for several months for defending three reformists who had called for a constitutional monarchy and who had dared to suggest that the National Human Rights Association was less than independent. Earlier this year he was shortlisted for a Bindman’s Law and Campaigning Award from Index on Censorship, and his recent cases have included defending a chemistry teacher who had said some positive things about Judaism and Christianity, and representing someone who had posted on a discussion board the opinion that homosexuality is connected to a genetic disposition. He has also opposed a judge who forced a woman to divorce a man from an “inferior” tribe (he called the decision “racist and ignorant”), and he has led investigations and prosecutions of abuses by the “morals police”. Last June, following more than one death in police custody, al-Lahem said that

“It’s the governmental body that violates human rights the most…The commission members say they are acting in the name of religion, a claim that has given them immunity against any criticism…This campaign will end the sacredness surrounding the commission and will pave the way for its reform.”

The Washington Post noted that

…Lahem’s involvement in any case has come to mean trouble, or at least intense scrutiny, for judges across the kingdom.

That opinion is clearly shared by Judge Soliman Al-Muhanna, who has decided to do something about it.

The brutal decision to lash AG comes just a few weeks after the execution of Egyptian Mustafa Ibrahim for witchcraft. A US-based Saudi activist observed then that

“This man was murdered in cold blood while the Saudi king is in Europe being touted as a reformer.”

Name variations: Abdulrahman Al-Lahem, Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, Abdul Rahman Al-Laham, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, Abdul Rahman al-Lahim

2 Responses

  1. […] why it is right and proper for a 19-year-old woman to receive 200 lashes (I blogged the case here): …we regret what some media have circulated on the role of the woman in the case, and the […]

  2. […] two people of different social status – an issue which Qatif Girl’s now-suspended lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem has previously tackled: Al-Khudairi said that according to Islamic religious law, even if a man and […]

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