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Dec 26 2013

The chance to repent and escape being beheaded

A Saudi blogger is under threat of being executed for “apostasy” – meaning, daring to leave Islam.

A SAUDI judge has recommended that a liberal activist and blogger be tried in a higher court for apostasy, a charge that could carry the death penalty, rights campaigners say.

A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom sentenced Raef Badawi in July to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a “liberal” network and for allegedly insulting Islam.

On Wednesday, a judge remanded Badawi to the General Court on charges of apostasy, rights lawyer Waleed Abulkhair said.

“Ultra-conservative” doesn’t really cover it. Murderously theocratic, misogynist and racist would be more like it.

Badawi, 35, was arrested in June last year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah for unknown reasons.

The network that he co-founded with female rights activist Suad al-Shammari had declared May 7, 2012 a “day of liberalism” in the kingdom, calling for an end to the domination of religion over public life in Saudi Arabia.

The strict version of Islamic sharia law applied in Saudi Arabia stipulates death as a punishment for apostasy, but defendants are usually given the chance to repent and escape being beheaded.

Oh, isn’t that generous. All they have to do is knuckle under to the ferociously anti-human religion of the Saudi clerics and monarchy, and they will “escape being beheaded.” What need of liberalism with such generosity as that on offer?

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    600 lashes is generally a death sentence.

  2. 2
    mohan

    My dear sirs, the hypocrisy of this article will be evident when one acknowledges the fact that the democratic, liberal and’ secular’ Western world is the power behind these bearded , moronic idiots!

  3. 3
    Kamaka

    This will not end well. The Saud theocratic version of mercy is only 300 lashes instead of 600. The threat of beheading will only be rescinded after appropriate emotional torment has been administered.

    This torture is likely to go on for years.

    But let all of us apostates celebrate the invitation of the pope to unite with the Vatican in seeking peace. After all, Francis is not demanding our heads on a plate. He’s nice.

  4. 4
    michaelbusch

    @mohan @2: If you are being serious:

    “sirs” ? Really? Do you even realize whose blog you posted that comment on?

    And there is not hypocrisy in the news.com.au article or in Ophelia’s quoting of it. It is not hypocrisy to say “the current Saudi government causes a great deal of oppression and evil” and “the United States/UK/Australian governments must cease supporting the current Saudi government” . You will find the latter opinion expressed repeatedly if you consult the archives of what Ophelia has written here, and in assorted opinion pieces by News Corp Australia.

    And someone’s being an authoritarian social dominator and ordering people killed, imprisoned, or killed for disagreeing with a religion makes them evil, not a “moronic idiot”. Nor is someone’s having a beard an effective insult. It is also sometimes a racist slur, and then unacceptable.

  5. 5
    latsot

    @al

    600 lashes is generally a death sentence.

    Yeah. I’m not exactly an expert but my first thought when I read the story was that 600 lashes doesn’t sound even remotely survivable, unless lashes are nothing like what I think they are.

    The next thirty or so thoughts all happened at the same time. Several of them were guilt about other thoughts that 600 lashes is somehow excessive as though 1 lash were not.

  6. 6
    kevinalexander

    ….the democratic, liberal and’ secular’ Western world is the power behind these bearded , moronic idiots!

    Umm..I think it’s the other way around. The Saudis have the oil and so control the junkie West.

  7. 7
    Acolyte of Sagan

    5.
    latsot
    December 27, 2013 at 4:57 am (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    Yeah. I’m not exactly an expert but my first thought when I read the story was that 600 lashes doesn’t sound even remotely survivable, unless lashes are nothing like what I think they are.

    My understanding is that the person administering the lashes must hold a copy of the Koran under his ‘whipping-arm’.* This has the effect of restricting how much force can be put into each lash as the arm can only move from the elbow, and so whilst still painful the lashes aren’t fatal.
    Also, the 600 lashes wouldn’t neccessarily all be given at the same time but spread out, possibly over several days. This is to ensure that the punishment is administered to its full effect; if the victim can no longer tolerate the pain after 100 lashes and so lapses into unconciousness then he won’t be able to feel the pain of the next 500, and they want every single one to be felt.
    Barbaric bastards.

    *This rule might be for the punishment of women only, but I don’t have the time to look it up at the moment.

  8. 8
    latsot

    This has the effect of restricting how much force can be put into each lash as the arm can only move from the elbow, and so whilst still painful the lashes aren’t fatal.

    Nonsense. I’ve never whipped and would never whip anyone. I’ve wielded a whip on occasion, though, because I’m interested in archaic weapons. I’ve wielded whips against sticks and I’ve noted the damage. A book under the arm wouldn’t much help the victim if the whipper were skilled.

  9. 9
    Argle Bargle

    Before 1879, flogging was legal in the Royal Navy. Sailors convicted of mutiny, striking an officer to cause grievous bodily harm, and murder would be sentenced to 500 or 600 lashes or to be “flogged around the fleet.” This later punishment had the sailor tied to the mast of a small boat and rowed from ship to ship, receiving lashes at each one. It was recognized by the sailors and by the British Admiralty that 300 or more lashes was usually a death sentence and that 500 or more lashes definitely was.

  10. 10
    michaelbusch

    @myself @4: That should be:

    And someone’s being an authoritarian social dominator and ordering people killed, imprisoned, or tortured for disagreeing with a religion makes them evil,

  11. 11
    Acolyte of Sagan

    latsot @ #8; of course a skilled whipper could seriously maim or kill the victim, and probably in less than 100 lashes, but what you have to account for is that flogging is a corporal rather than a capital punishment.
    A little digging brought me to http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/flogging.htm, where it is explained that far from being potentially fatal, “the flogging, whether by a whip with many straps or a by cane, should not break the skin.
    So to try as far as possible to comply with this – short of not flogging at all, of course! – the victim is also dressed during the punishment rather than the ‘traditional’ view of people being stripped to the waist for a whipping. It really is all about causing pain.

    Let’s face facts here, if nothing else those that uphold Sharia say what they mean when it comes to punishment. If the sentence is 600 lashes, the victim will receive – and feel – 600 lashes. If they want the victim to die the sentence is death by hanging, decapitation, stoning, or shooting, but not by flogging.

    Please note. I know that this sounds as though I’m in some way defending either flogging or Sharia Law, but I assure you I’m not: flogging is a barbaric punishment that most civilised places (with some exceptions: are you listening, Isle of Man?) have done away with, and Sharia is a barbaric system that no civilised country should entertain. I was merely pointing out that 600 lashes is far from being a death sentence, but is instead a punishment designed to cause maximum pain and humiliation.

  12. 12
    latsot

    @acolyte:

    the flogging, whether by a whip with many straps or a by cane, should not break the skin.

    Then I was flogged at school. I regularly received ‘ten of the best’ for various reasons, prevalent among them being the fact that I was a horrible little shit. Ten of the ‘best’, mind you. They never gave me sub-standard floggings. Heaven forbid. Possibly literally.

    But anyway, ten hurt. The first one hurt and each subsequent one hurt more and more. Sixty times that punishment would be very hard indeed to endure.

    I was caned on my hands and sometimes my arms, for some reason. Ironically, I was caned on my hands for bad handwriting. It hardly helped matters. My dad was regularly caned on his arse and he claims the teacher used to take a run-up and take particular pride in a good ‘thwack’ sound of the cane.

    I’m pleased to be educated by acolyte and agree with same that one is too many. Acolyte is right that humiliation is part of the point of the punishment. You get ten strikes of a cane on your hand, I don’t care who you are, you’ll cry. I can’t imagine what you’d do after 600. Admit to absolutely anything, I expect.

    Yay, learned yet another thing by coming here!

  13. 13
    latsot

    @acolyte

    It’s worth pointing out that a skilled flogger (and it makes me shudder to know that there are certainly such people) could certainly kill without breaking skin. If a nation endorses flogging as a punishment, it’s really a tiny hop to authority giving the wink to beat particular prisoners to death without the drama of a stripped and whipped bloody corpse.

    As usual, the horrific part is the disclaimer: “well, we didn’t break her skin”.

    Rules like that are license for people in charge of other people to do whatever the fuck they want.

  14. 14
    Acolyte of Sagan

    12.
    latsot
    December 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm (UTC -8) Link to this comment

    @acolyte:

    the flogging, whether by a whip with many straps or a by cane, should not break the skin.

    Then I was flogged at school. I regularly received ‘ten of the best’ for various reasons, prevalent among them being the fact that I was a horrible little shit. Ten of the ‘best’, mind you.

    Heh-heh! Me too, and with only one exception (involving a roll of magnesium ribbon carelessly left out by the previous class and a science lab suddenly lighting up like a star going supernova) it was always for my supposed ‘bad’ conduct during Religious Indoctrination Education; it seemed that the teachers thought they could beat belief into me, across three schools and eleven years.
    The thing is, I wasn’t questioning the Bible because I was, as one R.E. teacher so memorably put it as he dragged me into the headmaster’s office, a ‘blasphemous, evil little bastard’ (an incident that saw me caned on the stage in front of my entire year during assembly), but because I was genuinely trying to understand the thing: it bothered the young me that everybody else could apparently see what I couldn’t, and even way back then the advice ‘you don’t have to understand it, you just have to believe it’ made no sense whatsoever.

    But anyway, ten hurt. The first one hurt and each subsequent one hurt more and more. Sixty times that punishment would be very hard indeed to endure.

    Hence the spreading-out of the 600 lashes: well, there’s no point in exhausting the poor whippers arm if the recipient is either numb through shock or beaten into unconsciousness.

    My dad was regularly caned on his arse and he claims the teacher used to take a run-up…

    I believe him! At my final school, whilst any teacher could spank or use a ‘slipper’ (actually a plimsoll) on a child only three could administer the cane; the headmaster, whose strokes landed as lightly as a butterfly; the deputy head, who made the cane sting but not enough to cause any discomfort; and the head of year, a massive and powerfully built brute who had played both rugby and cricket at county level, and who took a fast three-stride run-up before attempting – or so it felt – to cleave the poor boys’ bodies in two (the girls were ‘only’ ever hit on the hands) and leaving them quite literally unable to sit for the rest of the day – or longer.

    Yay, learned yet another thing by coming here!

    I think the same almost every day :-)

  15. 15
    Sili

    I took mohan to be sarcastic, but perhaps they have a track record.

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