Going for a new record

Saudi Arabia is working hard at being more horrible this year than it was last year. Every day in every way it gets worser and worser. The Telegraph reports via AFP:

A man convicted of murder was beheaded in the Saudi capital on Monday, amid a steep rise in the number of executions in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom this year.

The beheading of Saad bin Abdullah al-Jadid, who had shot dead fellow Saudi Abdullah bin Faraj al-Gahtani, took to 45 the number of executions since January 1, according to an AFP count.

[Read more…]


Sweden has published online the address that Foreign Minister Margot Wallström planned to give in Cairo on Monday.

This is the part – the only part – where she touches on human rights and women’s rights, in a way that Saudi Arabia calls “offensive” and “blatant interference in its internal affairs.

I include the first three paragraphs only so that you can see what led up to the human rights and women’s rights part.


Democracy, security and economic development are interrelated. Without progress in one of these fields, sustainable results in the other cannot be expected. [Read more…]

Adjö Saudi Arabia

Sweden has actually dropped an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The Swedish government this week decided to scrap an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, effectively bringing to an end a decade-old defence agreement with the kingdom. The move followed complaints made by the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that she was blocked by the Saudis from speaking about democracy and women’s rights at a gathering of the Arab League in Cairo. [Read more…]

Guest post: If you have the connections or cash

Originally a comment by lorn on Saudi Arabia has expressed “surprise and dismay”.

Saudi Arabia is well acquainted with duplicity. Many publicly devout men have a wet bar, mistresses, and engage in decidedly unislamic activities behind closed doors. They also are quite willing to lavish huge sums of money to smooth over discrepancies and conflicts.

As a matter of policy they have a very generous welfare state to help smooth things out.

I had a job offer there and the list of things allowed in the contractors’ compound was slightly more libertine than what is allowed in most US red light districts. The understanding was that none of this was done, or spoken of, in public and taking it over the fence would subject you to punishment up to and including death. As long as one of the main clans doesn’t object, western contract employees are routinely given an opportunity to flee the country after you pay a $100,000 to $500,000 fine.

A friend accused of off compound excesses was dragged into a police station, given a light thrashing and threatened with death. The contractor quietly paid $150,000 and the man found that after another questioning the door to his cell was left ajar. Taking advantage of this he slipped past a police officer who seemed deeply distracted by paperwork and out the front door where he found a friendly but insistent taxi driver who insisted he get in. He was driven to the airport where he was drive past customs and directly to the boarding ladder. He was the last person to board an airliner that had been delayed. Once in the US he learned he had been declared persona non grata by SA and if he ever went back he would be beheaded.

It is clear that SA might be hell for the poor who are unwilling to comply, or work very hard to keep their non-compliance under wraps. But if you have the connections or cash, the rules, or at least the punishment, might be sidestepped.


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.

[Read more…]

A fundamentalist Islamist dictatorship

Max Fisher provides answers to nine basic questions about Saud-family Arabia.

Like, what is it.

Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist Islamist dictatorship, an ultra-wealthy oil economy, and perhaps the most powerful country in the Middle East. It is a very young country in a very old part of the world. It formed in 1932, when a tribal leader named Abdulaziz al-Saud conquered an area three times the size of Texas and then named it after himself. He and his first generation of sons have ruled Saudi Arabia ever since.

The way that Abdulaziz al-Saud came to conquer and unify this country is crucial for understanding it: by allying with a fiercely conservative group of Islamist fundamentalists known as the Wahhabis.  Saudi Arabia became “the only modern nation-state created by jihad,” as the journalist Steve Coll once put it.

[Read more…]

Five years old

I’m feeling sick now.

From the International Business Times

A Saudi preacher accused of raping, torturing and killing his five-year-old daughter, has reportedly been released from custody after agreeing to pay “blood money”.

Fayhan al-Ghamdi was sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes in 2013.

The court also ordered al-Ghamdi to pay his ex-wife, the girl’s mother, one million riyals ($270,000) in “blood money”.

According to some reports, al-Ghamdi had suspected his daughter had lost her virginity and had tortured her accordingly.

Al-Ghamdi’s daughter Lama suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns. [Read more…]

They should not think that they are exempted from this because they are followers of other faiths

Saudi Arabia is also (surprise surprise) harsh and bossy about Ramadan even for people who have the bad taste to be not Muslim.

The Interior Ministry has warned that it would deport non-Muslim expatriates found eating and drinking in public during Ramadan.

“Non-Muslim expatriates should respect the feelings of Muslims by not eating, drinking or smoking in public places such as streets and workplaces. They should not think that they are exempted from this because they are followers of other faiths,” the ministry said in a statement. [Read more…]

All dissent is terrorism

Human Rights Watch reported on March 20 that Saudi Arabia has passed a new “terrorism” law that pretty much equates all forms of dissent with terrorism.

The new regulations come amid a campaign to silence independent activists and peaceful dissidents through intimidation, investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and imprisonment. On March 9, the prominent human rights activists Abdullah al-Hamid and Mohammed al-Qahtani completed their first year in prison, serving 11 and 10-year sentences, respectively, for criticizing the government’s human rights abuses and for membership in an unlicensed political and civil rights organization. [Read more…]