This relates to the story detailed in this post. I have posted separately because the first set of clippings relates to the case itself, and the second lot relate to how other countries have reacted to the decision.
This is especially important because I am utterly sick of hearing about the important, cosy relationship that we and the USA have with Saudi Arabia – because of their money, and their arms deals, and their help with the war on terror. Every day in Saudi Arabia women are cruelly oppressed; they are subjected to the most horrific enforcements of an apartheid so strict I don’t think any country in the world can compete; they are crushed as the “Qatif girl” has been crushed- and they have no effective redress.
Yet still we play nice with the Saudi government. There is no talk of action, no talk of sanctions, no talk of condemnation or pressure. It makes me sick.
Josee Verner, Canada’s minister responsible for the status of women, called the Saudi ruling “barbaric” and said it would only further violate the 19-year-old victim. Verner said Canada would formally express its condemnation to “the appropriate Saudi authorities”.
But the US, which wants Saudi Arabia to attend its Middle East conference in Annapolis next week, did not condemn the ruling.
Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the US state department, said: “This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country,” when asked to comment on the case. “That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens.”Asked whether the Saudi authorities should reconsider the sentence against the woman, McCormack said he could not “get involved in specific court cases in Saudi Arabia dealing with its own citizens”.
Ottawa has rightly denounced this ruling as “barbaric.” It reeks of reprisal, not justice. Ottawa should urge King Abdullah, who claims to be reforming the legal system, where judicial whim trumps natural justice, to void the ruling and drop all charges against the victim.
CNN tried to get official reactions – nobody wanted to talk about this case:
COSTELLO: Over here, the U.S. State Department would only say the situation was “astonishing.”
QUESTION: Just to be clear, you’re in no way condemning the sentence at all?
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I’ve said what I’m going to say about it.
Also from CNN: White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend, who announced her resignation Monday, called the case “absolutely reprehensible” but told CNN’s “American Morning” the Saudis deserve credit for their assistance in battling terrorism. “This case is separate and apart from that, and I just don’t think there’s any explaining it or justifying it,” she added.
(We can only speculate that the reason she resigned is that she was not permitted to say these things and stay in a White House job.)
We sell billions of dollars worth of arms to the Saudis in a lucrative exchange. The State Department needs to condemn the Saudis’ handling of the case. Being our ally doesn’t buy our silence. This is an especially egregious case and one in which we can use our influence to defend the rights of women in Saudi Arabia and around the world.
The UK government does not appear to have issued any comments yet. They have the same interest as the USA in keeping Saudi Arabia sweet, I guess.
How long? How bad? How much will Saudi women and men have to endure before the suggestion that “being our ally doesn’t buy our silence” becomes true?