Saudi Arabia is surprised and wounded

The Sydney Morning Herald also reports on Saudi Arabia’s shock and sorrow at being rebuked for torturing its citizens over their expressed opinions.

Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year’s sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1000 lashes and 10 years in jail for “insulting Islam”.

The first 50 of Mr Badawi’s lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom’s rights record from Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

“Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence,” a statement attributed to an unnamed “Foreign Ministry official” said.

You shouldn’t be surprised, Saudi Arabia. You’re not that stupid. You live in the real world. You accept our money in exchange for your oil, and you know we don’t all share your views of what human beings owe to invented gods and their self-proclaimed prophets and dictators who claim to rule in their name. You know we don’t share your views of what is appropriate and reasonable punishment or what constitutes crime.

Hey, you want to return the favor? Rebuke the US for its outrageously huge prison population, its racist drug laws and enforcement of those laws, the racist “banter” of the Ferguson cops? Do it! Knock yourselves out. The US has a horrible record in many areas, and a horrendous one in the past. We were a slave country until a shockingly recent date! You can accuse us of all sorts of things, accurately. And we can accuse you.

The statement said Saudi courts were independent and that the kingdom’s constitution ensured the protection of human rights because it was based on Islamic sharia law.

But sharia isn’t about human rights. That’s what’s wrong with it. It’s about goddy rights. It doesn’t ensure the protection of human rights at all. It’s about what humans owe to god, not what we owe to each other.

“Saudi Arabia at the same time emphasises that it does not accept interference in any form in its internal affairs”, the statement said.

Yeah, and Daddy doesn’t accept interference in any form in his affairs, either, but once those affairs affect other people, it’s no longer just Daddy’s business or Saudi Arabia’s business.

[Saudi Arabia] does not permit the public worship of other faiths or allow them to maintain places of worship inside the country. In a new law last year, it included atheism as a terrorist offence.

It uses the death penalty for offences including blasphemy, apostasy and witchcraft.

Unacceptable. We get to say that. Liberal universalists get to say that, to Saudi Arabia or North Korea or Texas or anyone.


  1. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    I think the “judge not lest ye be judged” concept has to be pretty high on the list of harms done by religion. Everyone should judge everything and everybody, including themselves. That’s not to say one should completely condemn another for some minor flaw. It also doesn’t mean that you can automatically dismiss incoming criticism when it comes from someone who has been found wanting in another regard.

    Saudi Arabia has taken it to the ridiculous extreme of criminalizing incoming judgement (and killing the person making the criticism) while feeling perfectly free to judge others (and then killing them, too).

  2. Einar says

    Saudi Arabia would have some problems rebuking the US for its slavery track record. As recently as 1960 there was roughly 300000 slaves in Saudi Arabia. Formally they abolished slavery in 1962, one of the last countries in the world to do so.

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    And Saudi Arabia has the ongoing scandal of enslaved ‘guest workers’ from South Asia, the Philippines etc. Domestic servants abused and raped, construction workers trapped in gulag-like conditions with passports confiscated….

  4. Kakanian says

    In case nobody has mentioned it yet, the Swiss sent Saudi Arabia an official note of protest regarding the torture of Raif Badawi.

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